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Engaging Teenagers in the  Classroom and the World Beyond

Adolescence is a time of both opportunity and challenge for classroom learning. Middle and high school students are intellectually ready to tackle complex concepts and build essential skills; they have a broadening world view and are naturally curious. However, their increased focus on identity and the social scene can place classroom learning and empathy on a back burner. With social media’s dominance, teenagers often retreat from the world to spend most of their time online.

Capturing the tremendous learning potential of the adolescent years is important. Yet keeping students engaged and developing skills they need for the future can be challenging in schools with large classes and standard programs. The best learning environments actively involve students, connect them to the world, with experienced, supportive teachers who understand adolescent development.

For parents, investing in this kind of enriched secondary education can pave the way for success in college and life beyond. 

At Carlsbad’s Pacific Ridge School, students in grades 7-12 engage actively with academic subjects while connecting with communities beyond their own. The school’s mission focuses on academic excellence, ethical responsibility and global engagement in a program designed to graduate confident, curious and compassionate young adults who are ready for college and are thoughtful about the life that comes afterwards.

Pacific Ridge students strengthen their speaking, listening and critical thinking skills in seminar-style classrooms with 15 students sitting at a large, oval table alongside their teacher. The style of lessons is dynamic by design, including discussion, lecture, student presentations and small group work. The face-to-face orientation of the students encourages participation and collaboration, giving students daily practice with communication, analytic and problem-solving skills.

In a co-curricular service learning program, students develop empathy and come to understand that, even as young people, they can have an impact on the world. The faculty-guided middle school program introduces students to a wide range of volunteerism, with time spent weekly at animal shelters, environmental agencies, senior centers and with members of the disabled community. In grades 9-12, students initiate and lead service groups; over 40 groups address needs in both local and global communities.

A signature experience of global education at Pacific Ridge is its annual travel program. At the end of each school year, students and their teachers travel to destinations in the U.S. and around the world for up to two weeks of cultural immersion, service and study. Over 95% of students participate in global travel. To date, Pacific Ridge students have explored 52 countries on six continents. 

Beyond the classroom, students are encouraged to discover and actively pursue interests. The school’s unique weekly schedule includes built-in time for service, clubs and study so students can participate in athletics, arts, service and clubs without having to choose between them. This approach, known as the Student360 Experience, supports student engagement in a wide variety of activities so they can lead full, yet balanced, lives.

Families interested in learning more about how Pacific Ridge School can engage your child in the classroom and the world beyond are invited to attend an Open House on Saturday, November 4, at 1:00 p.m.

To register, visit

1 comment

Lowell October 26, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Is this a news article or an advertisement? Seriously, I’m trying to understand the point.

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