The second commitment of The Hewitt School’s strategic vision is to reimagine where school happens to take full advantage of immersive, collaborative, and hands-on learning in New York City. Read on to learn about how this commitment lives in the everyday experiences of our students and what students and families can look forward to next at Hewitt.
At Hewitt, we are increasingly taking students off-campus to explore our city and world through deep dive learning experiences — intensive investigations of thorny, interesting, real-world problems. Research shows that place-based experiential learning opportunities are transformative, and indeed, Hewitt students return from their off-campus deep dives full of enthusiasm for the experience of learning directly from, and developing connections with, their local communities.
In the fall, a group of upper school students participated in a six-day deep dive, Sustainable NYC. With a focus on how New York City residents can foster a reciprocal relationship with the Catskill communities that protect our watershed, students spent three days meeting with state conservation officials responsible for maintaining the city’s water supply; visiting the site of the long defunct Collect Pond downtown, which was the main water supply for our city for two centuries; and exploring the Battery Urban Farm. At the Union Square Greenmarket, students engaged with vendors from farms in the Catskill region before heading up to the Ashokan Center in the Catskills for a three day exploration of the watershed.
At Ashokan, they conducted water testing, studied the biodiversity of the surrounding forests, and learned about the local communities surrounding the reservoir. Ever mindful of their own footprint, the Hewitt group was the first school group to complete a stay at Ashokan with zero food waste, earning a Broken Arrow award from the Center!
Why this innovation matters: Through deep dive learning experiences, students develop confidence and agency around their learning, break out of their normal routine, expand their perspectives, take advantage of New York City’s rich cultural resources, and gain hands-on understanding of how they can contribute to their local communities now.