The World Awaits: The City as Campus Program
The purpose of Quest Forward Academy is to create the most meaningful education possible for students. The City as Campus program at Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa takes students into the wider community on relevant and intentional excursions, while also bringing unique and interesting speakers from the community into the school. The City as Campus program gives students the opportunity to come into contact with experts and pioneers in their fields, who show students how the concepts we study and the skills and habits we practice can be applied in the professional world. As educators, it is our duty to support students in becoming creative and active participants in their learning, and who participate with the world around them adding value wherever they go.
City as Campus Excursions, 2018-19
- 9th- and 12th-grade Civics students took public transportation to view The Hate U Give, a teen coming-of-age film exploring the topic of police brutality, in downtown Santa Rosa. Not only was the content of the film directly related to course themes, but it was also inherently beneficial simply to get this diverse group of students out of the building, out of our comfort zone, and into the city.
- Every single graduating senior worked as an elections official on Election Day during the 2018 Midterm Election. This brought students face-to-face with the inner workings of our democracy. After several training sessions with instructors from the local Registrar of Voters, students served as (paid!) poll workers in local elections precincts, from dawn till well past dusk.
- The entire school visited the Museums of Sonoma County, where we experienced “After the Fire”—an exhibit of art and artifacts chronicling the 2017 Sonoma County wildfires that had displaced many students and affected all of our lives. This gave us an opportunity to process our varying levels of grief, to support each other, and to appreciate this devastating event through the artistic lens of our fellow citizens.
- A guided tour of the Healdsburg Memorial Bridge (as part of the Exploration Year “Bridges” course).
- A whole-school trip to the award-winning Permaculture Skills Center, a local working organic farm, ecological landscaping business, and education site built on forward-thinking principles holistic design (related to the “Gardening and Nature” course).
- Visit to an ice cream shop owned by Art mentor Angela Pryor, to learn from her experience as the owner of a small business (and to decide on the flavor of ice cream to order for their upcoming graduation!).
Guest Speakers, 2018-19
- Our first guest speaker of the year was Carl Wilkins, the only American to stay in Rwanda (and who did amazing humanitarian work) during the 1994 genocide. He used the power of storytelling to teach compassion, forgiveness, and integrity. Carl’s visit remains our most universally highly rated special event.
- Zephira Derblich-Mileteach, from the East Bay’s Shalom Bayit, spent an afternoon with students discussing consent and healthy relationships in her interactive “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” presentation.
Our off-campus City as Campus excursions, and the guest speakers we invite to our school, are meaningfully curated. They all connect with our existing curriculum and build upon our habits and skills.
These exceptional experiences are intended to inspire our students and mentors to become better people, to connect more authentically with others, to expand their horizons as thinkers, to be of service and add value wherever they go, and to deepen their journey as lifelong learners. City as Campus is an essential part of our blossoming narrative as an educational institution on the cutting edge of next-generation learning.
Nils Palsson is a mentor of social science, government, economics, journalism, yearbook, and student leadership at Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa. He also serves as a Mentor Coach and a facilitator of the City as Campus and Global Learning programs at the Academy. Nils joined the Quest Forward Academy team in 2018 and loves Quest Forward’s agile and individualized approach to education.