The Anneliese Odyssey
THE PRACTICE OF PURPOSE
Discovering Meaning Through Experiential Field Learning
Experiential learning is a hallmark of Anneliese Schools education. We believe that learning takes on added purpose and comes alive when the world itself becomes the classroom.
Real-life experience is dynamic, stimulating, and engaging. It requires students to be present, solve problems as they arise, and ask questions. Empowering students to take their learning into experiential settings directs their energy towards tangible results. Students see the impact they can have, which awakens a sense of purpose and a spirit of engagement.
At Anneliese Schools, we believe Purpose is intertwined with Stewardship. We view stewardship as the activity of “taking-care-of”: whether that be of the planet, our community, or the surrounding environment. ‘Caring for’ and ‘caring about’, provides motivation to create solutions, solve problems, and be of service to others.
Our Odyssey Studies is an integral part of the TAO curriculum, providing authentic experiences for students to learn within their community and at large.
Guided by TAO staff, students direct learning towards experiences that they feel are fulfilling and powerful.
Odyssey Studies are organized around four key themes:
The Scholar’s Journey:
Through the Scholar’s Journey, students have the opportunity to deeply explore a topic of their choice. Guided by their own curiosity, students develop a course of independent study, and engage teachers and peers to help them develop research structures and strategies for in-depth investigation. Our staff helps students take an interdisciplinary approach, studying their topic through multiple disciplines and perspectives, as well as applying critical thinking skills. It involves independent work, self-direction, and results in a culminating presentation of learning. The Scholar’s Journey validates students’ as they deepen their intellectual explorations, and empowers them with learning experiences that are personally meaningful, self-directed, and inspiring.
Field-work focuses on in-depth learning and exploration of the natural world. Students self-select an area of study with an ecological focus, and immerse themselves in it, augmented by real-world contexts. Some examples of field-work might include developing farming or construction projects built upon Environmental and Agricultural studies frameworks; exploring the topic of soil regeneration with scientists and other experts at our Rebel Mountain Farm; or engaging with marine studies through the marine environment and marine resources available in Southern California.
The service component of Odyssey Studies involves outreach to communities, whether that be within our Laguna Beach community, or extended communities. It involves social justice and entrepreneurship, and consists of direct and indirect involvement with real-world, societal issues (for example homelessness and hunger). Service supports TAO student advocacy and builds skills that our students can apply in future careers and academic pursuits.
National and international travel opportunities build character and compassion alongside peer relationships to better foster young adulthood. We offer travel programs that are curated and designed for experiential learning. Students have one travel experience each year.
- 5th Grade – Regional Camping: Students get their first taste of the wilderness as they explore our local desert regions. Joshua Tree and the Mojave Valley offer diverse biomes where students can connect with the land, making rich connections to their historical experiences and studies of California. This initial group travel experience is a unique and supportive chance for young students to find freedom in a new environment.
- 6th Grade – Fiji: Students and family members travel to our remote Eco-resort on Kadavu Island, Fiji, for a program that focuses on cultural immersion and cultural awareness, and a unique experience of the natural world of the South Pacific.
- 7th Grade – Rural New England: Students travel to a rural area of the United States to explore its rich ecology and natural landscape through environmental studies and practical activities. Students learn homesteading skills that include farming, agricultural practices, and basic survival skills. Students engage in camping, hiking, and boating to enrich their experience of the natural environment.
- 8th Grade – International Country of Choice: Students focus on World Language acquisition during their 8th grade travel experience. Depending upon the language they have studied during their middle school TAO years, students will select either a Spanish-speaking (Spanish), French-speaking country (French), or Germany (German), and travel to that country for a dedicated block of immersive language instruction.