Experiential Education Beyond the Classroom

Tampa Preparatory School believes that experiential education fosters a deeper understanding of self and others. Our students are encouraged to live the Tampa Prep mission to think, create, be yourself, aspire to excellence and go beyond. These experiential learning opportunities exemplify our mission in action and occur in many forms through grade-level class trips, off-campus coursework and community service days. The end result? Academic learning, character education, global and civic awareness, and personal development.

Grade-Level Trips

Grade 6 - Kennedy Space Center

» Sixth Graders Embark on a Florida Adventure

Kennedy Space CenterRopes Course at TreeUmph

Our students' first encounter with experiential education happens in sixth grade, when students spend three days touring local Florida sites. The trip fosters camaraderie and trust as students begin their trip with a ropes course designed for students to challenge themselves and overcome adversity. On the next part of the trip, students take part in interactive presentations and meet historical figures as they tour the Kennedy Space Center.

Grade 7 - Florida Keys

» Seventh Grade Keys Trip Offers Up-Close Look at Marine Wildlife

Each year, seventh graders spend a week in the Keys, exploring wildlife and experiencing nature through a variety of hands-on activities. In addition to the knowledge gained through the various activities, students are learning life skills as they spend a week away from their families, traveling with their peers and trusted chaperones. Chaperones strive to help maturing students learn to think and act independently and promote a positive self-concept. As groups work together, students develop mutual respect and learn to communicate effectively.

The Keys Trip is a culmination of the Life Science curriculum. After studying plant and animal organisms, kingdoms, species and their habitats and characteristics, students interact with these animals in their native environments. Each day is filled with interactive learning experiences the students will remember for a lifetime. Activities include learning about and swimming with the Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin at the Dolphin Research Center, scouring for water animals on Sombrero Beach, kayaking through the Mangroves of No Name Key, snorkeling in Grass Flats, visiting the Turtle Hospital on Marathon Key, snorkeling or SCUBA diving on Looe Key and visiting Key West, where they celebrate the Sunset Festival at Mallory Square, eat dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and take a Ghost Tour of Historical Key West. It is an amazing, unforgettable trip!

Grade 8 - Boston

» Eighth Grade Encounters Historic Boston Sites

Each fall, eighth grade students board a plane for their annual trip to Boston. They spend four days touring New England, tracing the roots of the American Revolution by walking Boston's historic Freedom Trail. Major stops include Bunker Hill, Old North Church and Paul Revere's home. Students visit the towns of Lexington and Concord where the first battles were fought, and take time for reflection at Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau wrote his masterpiece, Walden. In the town of Salem, students visit the Salem Witch Museum, the Salem Witch Memorial and the spooky House of the Seven Gables. On the last day of the trip, they are transported to the year 1627 and live the life of a pilgrim at Plymouth Plantation. The jam-packed trip brings history to life as students encounter sites and scenes straight from their textbooks.

Grade 11 - Pisgah National Forest, NC

» Experiential Learning to the Nth Degree: The Junior Pisgah Trip

The Junior Class trip to the picturesque mountains of Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina helps develop skills not necessarily formed or tested in the classroom, moving juniors outside of their comfort zones to grow physically, mentally and emotionally. Students work together to cook meals, put up tents, follow trails, build campfires and rock climb. Each member of the group experiences life-changing lessons as they discover themselves and learn the importance of encouraging and supporting each other. They begin the school year with new friends and a deeper bond from their shared experience. See what students have done in the past on this week-long journey of self discovery.

Off-Campus Coursework

Senior Internship Program

Successful completion of the Senior Internship Program is a requirement of graduation. Starting in January, seniors are counseled through the process of finding and preparing for local business internships. They intern for a total of 70 hours (less 10 hours for each AP class being taken), for the final three weeks of the school year. As a way to document their experience and newfound knowledge, seniors blog each week of their Internship.

The process of preparing a resume, interviewing for a job and being punctual and responsible in the workplace is invaluable for students as they enter college and, eventually, the workforce.

Language and Culture Class "Aprendizaje"

Spanish teacher MaryBeth Hill began the "Aprendizaje" project in 2010. With so many native Spanish speakers in Tampa, Mrs. Hill saw an opportunity for her students immerse themselves in those cultural pockets within the community.

As the culminating project in her Language and Culture class, students must seek out and arrange a half day internship (about 4-5 hours, or longer if they choose) in a Spanish-speaking environment. Students have worked in restaurants, law offices, construction sites, bakeries and even refereed on soccer fields. The immersion experience forces students outside of their comfort zones and "school Spanish," and ultimately they realize that they understand and can communicate more than they thought they could. Even better, Mrs. Hill says, "This opportunity creates ties to and partnerships with our Spanish-speaking community as well. The hosts have always been welcoming and very supportive of the initiative!"

Below, Shakir Muhammad '18 spent the day interning with Telemundo Tampa, our local Spanish TV station.

Chorus Recording at Nashville's Studio B

Thirty-one Upper School Chorus students traveled to Nashville for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

As soon as the group touched down in Nashville the fun began. Chorus teacher Mr. Hoy escorted the students around Nashville and its unique culture and history, visiting venues such as:

  • Visiting Andrew Jackson's Hermitage where they enjoyed an interactive "duel" and toured Jackson's mansion estate.
  • Attending the national tour of Wicked at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, where they were dazzled by the incredible set design, costumes, and performers.

They also gained valuable professional experiences like:

  • Attending a workshop with Dr. Jeffery Ames, choral director at Belmont University. Students toured the Belmont campus and received feedback from Dr. Ames for their upcoming recording session.
  • Observing a rehearsal of Dr. Ames with his college choir "Chorale."
  • Going on a backstage tour to learn historical events for country music at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Performing at the Grand Ole Opry in front of a large crowd and singing along to "Rocky Top" and "Wagon Wheel" performed by the Old Crow Medicine Show.
  • Watching country artists perform and debut at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Cheering middle school math teacher and coach Mrs. Rosa Harwell as she won the HOW-DY competition in front of a crowd of thousands at the Opry.
  • Visiting and performing in the Ryman Auditorium and touring the Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • Watching a country music revue on the General Jackson Steamboat and enjoying good, southern cooking!

The trip ended with an hour-long recording session in the famed Studio B where the students recorded five songs including "Even When He is Silent," the "National Anthem," and "Rather Be." For the recording, Mr. Hoy played on the same piano Elvis played on long ago.

"The students brought an energy and focus to the recording studio that I will never forget," said Mr. Hoy. "Some even removed their shoes to keep from hearing footsteps on the recording." To close their recording session, students circled to perform our Alma Mater, arms locked and swaying, making many of the 11 seniors' eyes well up with tears as they sang it for one of the last times. "They said the lyrics to our school song rang truer than they had ever before," Mr. Hoy said. "While the recording might have some sniffles, it was an incredible moment for both the students and I, and something they will cherish for years to come."

The Studio B recording of the "National Anthem" by the Chorus will be played at sport games and graduations for many years to come! Here is a video of their recording session.

Public Health Project in Guatemala

On June 4, 2017, 15 students and two faculty members departed Tampa International Airport for Guatemala. This group of trailblazers participated in Tampa Prep's first ever Public Health course—a unique science elective that combined classroom learning with a two-week GPSA Health service trip to Xela, Guatemala.

The Public Health course began in January when Tampa Prep faculty members held eight after-school sessions and a week of summer classes to prepare participants for the trip via cultural awareness, public health concerns and travel tips. In addition, four University of South Florida (USF) nursing students and a USF nursing instructor taught Tampa Prep students basic nursing skills like taking blood pressure and measuring blood glucose levels.

Once in Guatemala, our students confidently applied their new health screening skills. Tampa Prep students worked with locals and other visiting volunteers in four pueblo health clinics around the larger town of Xela. They also taught public health seminars on hygiene in local elementary schools and participated in multiple health fairs throughout the community. At one health fair, students took blood pressure and blood glucose measurements of the entire police force as well as the mayor. Throughout the trip, community members were very receptive and thankful for the help this program offered.

In addition to their public health work, students lived with host families to experience Guatemalan culture and practice their Spanish fluency. Each afternoon, students traveled to Xela for one-on-one Spanish language classes and essential introductory cultural training.

This trip was a life-changing experience for the students who were able to make a real difference in the lives of others and witness the importance of early detection through health screening in developing nations. It offered them global insight and a chance to go beyond in a rewarding way.