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It’s becoming increasingly salient that students need real-world skills to succeed in the future of work as we dive further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The ability to apply knowledge from the classroom and into the real world is no longer something that’s nice to have, but a necessity.

Episcopal High School (EHS) is one such school in the US that provides students with a well-rounded education that shapes their growth, and uniquely prepares them to succeed in university life and beyond. EHS is a private, 100% boarding school for boys and girls in grades nine through 12.

“We provide an immersive experience that no other school can offer,” said Jeremy Goldstein, the executive director of EHS’ McCain-Ravenel Center for Intellectual and Moral Courage . The school is nestled on a 130-acre residential campus, located just minutes from the heart of the nation’s capital — Washington, D.C. — which serves as an extension of the classroom under The Washington Program.

An immersive learning experience at a metropolitan centre

Source: Episcopal High School

Episcopal High School is a setting that promotes a supportive learning environment for students where lifelong friendships are made. Source: Episcopal High School

The Washington Program is an experience-based learning opportunity where students explore Washington, D.C., through the lenses of four concentrations: Cultural Awareness, Entrepreneurship, Public Policy and Sustainability.

Under the program, the metropolitan centre serves as a “classroom” where students learn, stretch themselves and grow in their personal and professional capacity. Students may engage in a weekly exploration of the city to learn new things, such as how the US government functions and how cultural heritage shapes society.

Students gain different skill sets and experiences that will broaden their horizons and better prepare them for the real world. Goldstein notes that students make weekly trips into Washington, D.C., in small groups for deeper learning aligned directly with their academic studies.

Since the opening of the 2021-22 school year, faculty and students have accessed Washington, D.C., in curriculum-related experiences that include Advanced US History interactive study of Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home); Advanced Chemistry by visiting the historic Apothecary in Alexandria to study the development of compounds in medicine; and Advanced Global Studies: History and Politics of Food course spending the day at an organic farm to experience sustainable farming.

Senior Externships that prepare students for university life and beyond

Source: Episcopal High School

With Senior Externships, students encounter challenges outside of the classroom in a working environment. Source: Episcopal High School

Students’ final leg of the EHS experience includes the four-week Senior Externship, which provides qualified senior students with a “professional” experience in the final month of their academic year. It gives them a chance to engage with a company or organisation in the greater Washington metropolitan area.

Their thoughtfully designed evening programmes prepare students with some real-world experience. Students engage in myriad activities, from self-defence classes to financial literacy workshops and cohort meetings.

Many of their students are doing externships at EHS partner businesses, government agencies, non-profits, among other organisations. This year’s externship hosts include judges on the DC Superior Court, a New York Times best-selling author and a neurogenetics specialist at Children’s National Medical Center.

Some students engage in independent work or are taking online courses to learn workforce-ready skills such as coding and design. Others are enrolled in Launch 2021, an EHS entrepreneurship course taught in partnership with humble ventures, a venture capital firm.

Despite the busy schedule, Senior Externships aren’t all work and no play — students also have opportunities to have fun together during their final days in Washington, D.C. It’s an experience that has proven useful for many of their students.

“With our externship being the capstone, it provides an opportunity for early exploration of what students may hope to become in the future. We have a number of stories that result in them being hired and going on to their later careers,” says Goldstein, who oversees the externship program.

The program is also aimed at ensuring students of diverse backgrounds benefit from the opportunities that Washington, D.C., has to offer. Goldstein said the School noted that access to certain externship and internship opportunities in Washington, D.C., often centred on students’ established family connections, which meant not all students gained access to higher-profile externships.

In response to ensuring both equal access and diverse externship opportunities for all, EHS has strategically expanded their partner network to include more traditionally marginalised individual-led businesses and organisations, explains Goldstein.

“Now, with students connected to more diverse leaders, the benefit is twofold: Students of colour can see their own identities reflected in current leaders, and white students can work on diverse teams with broad ranges of identities” explains Goldstein.

Ultimately, externships help students explore their career interests and help their transition to college and beyond. To learn more about Episcopal High School, click here.

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