Experiential Learning

At Renaissance School, students participate in many learning activities out in the world. Learning that comes from the classroom alone is like a chair with only one leg - it’s neither sturdy nor well-balanced. What we learn in a book really comes alive when we get to see it in real life!

All-School “Ninth Week” Trips

Over the course of four years, Renaissance School students go on a total of eight schoolwide, week-long trips - one each semester - throughout the region and the country, integrated with our curriculum. How exciting to learn about native plants in Environmental Science and statistical techniques in Statistics, and then go out and participate in a county park native tree exploration! Or to learn about the Civil Rights movement in US History, and then visit the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville - or to study Chihuly glass sculpture, and then see one of his magnificent chandeliers at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The destinations for Ninth Week change each semester, but the focus on experiential learning remains constant.

All-School Arts Practicum With Community Partners

Each spring semester students participate in an eight-week intensive workshop with a local arts organization in a core curriculum requirement we call Arts Practicum. Students have created animated and live-action short films with Light House Studio, several of which have gone on to win prizes at regional and national film festivals. Other students have created a Charlottesville soundscape or recorded a demo with the Music Resource Center. Other projects have been conducted with Live Arts, the IX Art Park, the Charlottesville Ballet, and other community partners, all with a focus on student direction, choreography, design, and performance. It is an essential experience in taking arts knowledge learned in the classroom and converting it into teamwork that results in a final, performable work after eight weeks.

All-School UVA Library Research Excursions

A civilian may rely on Wikipedia, but a scholar does not! Academic research at the UVA Library system, on Grounds, is an essential part of a Renaissance School student’s experience starting the first quarter of Freshman year. First-time visitors receive a formal tour of the stacks from one of the head librarians as well as instructions on how to access and use the various academic journal databases. Students have the opportunity to visit individual department libraries in Physics, Art, Chemistry, Music, Engineering, and other subjects. By the time a student is a Junior and embarking on their two years of Independent Study, the doing research in a university library system is second nature.

Student Mentors

Sometimes the best way to learn material, is to teach it! Renaissance School students regularly teach workshops to visiting students from local middle schools. We love our longstanding tradition of hosting Peabody School’s 8th grade science class for a genetics experiment led by our Synthetic Biology students, a profit & loss accounting workshop facilitated by our Business students, and a branding exercise with our Portfolio Art students. We have visited local public and independent elementary and middle schools with music, science, and other subjects. A student has really mastered the material when they can explain it to a younger student! RHS Juniors and Seniors who are particularly advanced in their field of interest also have TA opportunities at the school.

Course Field Trips

Art students visit resident artists at McGuffey Art Center and participate in shows. Business students file business name registration paperwork at the courthouse and pitch ideas at Darden. English students take a workshop at Telegraph on narrative structure in graphic novels. Juniors who have a strong focus on public speaking during the first year of the two-year Independent Studies program attend TEDx at the Paramount Theater. RHS is fortunate to be centrally located just two blocks from the downtown Mall, so opportunities to visit experts in many subjects abound! Field trips are a regular part of the learning experience in every discipline.