The Shipley Magazine

Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences

Strategic Plan Update - Goal #1: Educational Excellence

How is Shipley strengthening students’ ability to engage and lead in an increasingly complex and interconnected world?

The five strategies supporting educational excellence are aimed at equipping students with the skills they will need to thrive and succeed in an increasingly global world, where empathy, critical thinking, and social competencies are essential. In this feature from the Summer/Fall 2023 issue of the Shipley Magazine, we explore how we are addressing these goals across divisions and departments to create meaningful learning experiences for students.

Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences

Goals Addressed: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
~Benjamin Franklin

Living and fulfilling our mission of compassionate participation in the world begins with the local communities around Shipley and extends across the ocean to include our ongoing partnership with the Brain Tree School in Uganda. Our special programs, including Service Learning, Global Programs, Educational Horticulture, and Sustainability, have integrated their efforts to offer students more engaging, meaningful, and impactful experiential learning opportunities. By forging stronger partnerships with institutions and organizations both at home and abroad, we are re-envisioning ideas of where, when, and from whom our students learn.

A Field Study with Purpose in Saunders Woods

Shipley eighth graders embrace hands-on learning, putting their ecosystem knowledge into action. Exploring Saunders Woods, they pose and tackle their own research questions, gather data, and present findings. Guided by the scientific process and inquiry techniques, this authentic assessment fosters practical application of classroom learning, nurturing a deeper understanding of ecosystems. In the future, students will share their findings with Natural Lands Trust. Read more about this activity.

Empowering Global Citizens

Students can embark on language and cultural journeys with Shipley’s immersive global initiatives. The Pen Pal Exchange in Middle School links students with peers in France, fostering language practice and cross-cultural insights through shared Google Docs and assignments. The Upper School’s Villefranche French Exchange made a triumphant return in 2023, with a group of students bridging continents, exploring Paris’ historic sites, and creating lasting friendships. Shipley’s Global Programs also brought students to Costa Rica and the United Kingdom in 2023. These experiences enrich education beyond the classroom walls and prepare students to be globally competent citizens. Learn more about Pen Pal exchanges in Middle School.

Garden Diaries

Shipley’s decades-long relationship with the Brain Tree School in Uganda has deepened to focus on student learning and teacher collaboration, while continuing to make a positive impact through community fundraising efforts. The Garden Diaries project is a good example of this refocused approach. 

Educational Horticulture Coordinator Sarah Sterling consulted with Brain Tree on adding raised garden beds, which were built using proceeds from Super Saturday 2022. 

Lower School science teacher Dan Del Duca and his students partnered with Brain Tree teachers and students to learn from one another by sharing photos documenting their gardening efforts from seed to harvest.

Harkness Discussions in the Classroom

The Harkness model places students at the center of the learning process and encourages them to take an active role. It fosters critical thinking by requiring students to listen and observe, and then to analyze what their peers have said. Students verbalize their own understanding to build on the discussion. Benefits to this approach include deeper understanding, development of public speaking skills, hearing multiple perspectives, and elevating student choice. Teachers remain in the background assessing understanding, providing guidance and clarification when necessary. Learn more about Harkness at Shipley.

Student-Led Service Initiatives

Starting in Lower School, Shipley students participate in a vibrant service learning program that provides opportunities for students to practice compassionate participation in the world by doing meaningful work in support of local organizations. Service Learning Coordinator Margie Winters has worked hard to build partnerships with over 50 regional non-profits, institutions, and community organizations, where Shipley students have shared their time and talents to make a positive impact. Community partners include The Timothy School, Sanctuary Farm, TALK School, Harriton House, The Ardmore Food Pantry, and Broad Street Ministry, among many others.

Read More from The Shipley Magazine

The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.