The Center For Experiential Learning at Abington Friends School
Find out how Abington Friends School is connecting its students with professionals to create an active learning environment.
Informed decisions about college majors and future careers come from a rigorous classroom program combined with access to real world experience. Abington Friends School, a Quaker-based, coed school serving children in preschool through twelfth grade, located in Jenkintown, offers its Upper School students this real world experience through The Center for Experiential Learning.
Under the direction of Rosanne Mistretta, the Center is taking the school’s values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equity, and stewardship, and combining them with unique opportunities ranging from field trips to professional settings to workshops on entrepreneurship. Students are able to connect with real world mentors, engaging with local professionals in fields such as medicine, business, and communications, to learn more about their careers.
“Through the sharing of experiences, our students are actively learning—something we value and encourage at Abington Friends. They are understanding possibilities, connecting to opportunities and making an impact on the world,” said Mistretta.
The Center creates programs based on what intrigues the students. MedEx started a two years ago because so many students expressed interest in learning more about the various aspects of the medical field. The students meet with area doctors and other medical professionals and discuss medical ethics, read x-rays and MRIs, perform dissections and go on field trips to hospitals, clinics and museums. Students have gone on to do independent projects with the doctors that they formed relationships with over the course of the year.
Recently, Amy Burkholder–an Emmy Award winning television medical news producer has been added to the roster of MedEx mentors. She says,
“Working with the students at AFS, I’m convinced the future of medicine is in very good hands. The students complement a strong intellectual curiosity with the drive- and compassion – that embrace and continue to fuel rapid changes in medicine and technology. There are so many career options to explore: from clinical care and research, to healthcare leadership and communications. I’m thrilled to bring my experience in medical journalism and network news producing, and now, running communications at the CHOP Cancer Center, to these capable, hungry minds. To explore, to ask questions, to not be afraid to challenge the status quo – AFS has well-prepared the students we mentor to carve out a path to truly follow their passions, and in doing so, find the joy in such a transformative field of work. As mentors, we are fortunate to face their tough questions, and continue to stretch ourselves to see medicine through fresh eyes.”
Their newest program, BizEx, is giving students the chance to explore opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation.
Beginning in their sophomore year, students can apply for the BizEx program, which matches them with accomplished professionals in their chosen field to serve as mentors. From there the students, under the guidance of the mentor group, begin exploring the facet of business that interests them. The exploration comes in the form of field trips, shadowing, and the chance to interact with professionals one-on-one and in panel discussions.
BizEx Program Mentor, accomplished investor, and mother to two AFS students, Sue Lohr, enjoyed introducing mentees to the process of product development.
“My main goal was to teach the kids to think about creating something with value. The environment was supportive and open so even if the student’s project didn’t turn out as expected, they felt comfortable trying again.”
The future of The Center for Experiential learning is as robust as it’s participating students. When asked about the future of the BizEx program, Mistretta said, “we are currently developing an internship program and creating additional networking opportunities so students can continue to grasp the importance of relationships as they continue their education and eventually start their career.”
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Visit Abington Friends School at one of their open houses:
Open House, Saturday, March 16 at 1 p.m.
Tuesday Tours, every Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Nature Playdate, Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m.
Photos by Wanda Thomas