Vermont Academy has always embraced the concept of having students actively participate in a class as opposed to passive learning. We have found that if a student is positively engaged and participating either verbally or physically in class, real learning takes place. Whether it is building and programming your own robot in Physics, or tapping maple trees in late winter to retrieve sap, our students are using their hands while stimulating their minds. This is a model that crosses all disciplines and has been adopted by all departments. The English students practice public speaking, the language learners put on skits in the target language, and history students participate in state-wide competitions where they defend their research in front of a panel of judges. Every year we consciously ponder the possibilities that lie beyond the traditional four walls of the classroom and work with students in more progressive methods that encourage and stimulate different types of learners.
In addition, our impressive array of athletic offerings and outdoors programs focuses on this type of experiential education. After the last class of the day, even more learning takes place on the fields and in the forests of our 500+ acre classroom. Our ski hill is busy in the winter with skiers practicing their jumps; our trails are full of runners, bikers, and nordic racers preparing for their next meets; and our varsity and junior varsity athletic teams compete weekly against teams from all around New England. From dawn to dusk, our students are busy and engaged in a variety of academic and athletic activities that challenge their brains and force them to engage with one another and with nature. This type of “hands on learning” produces the all-around excellence of a Vermont Academy student and prepares them for a life full of activity beyond Saxtons River.