Experiential Education

    • Kim McCabe

Drew's learning culture is one of exploration. Hands-on learning is vital in the process of amplifying your voice and at Drew, learning happens any time you have a chance to attempt something new.

Drew students develop the confidence to explore the world through hands-on learning experiences that involve active problem solving and creative, critical thinking.

Experiential learning allows both students and teachers to tap into one’s own creativity, as well as a more in-depth quest for knowledge and skill. Experiential opportunities allow you to challenge your ideas about identity, social justice, and your place in the world around you.

Direct experience allows the development of skills and values and strengthens structures for you to become a lifelong learner and a productive member of your communities. Through these experiences, you will push your boundaries and experience physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.


The DEALL (Drew Education for Active Lifelong Learning) Week experience furthers Drew’s commitment to learning by doing. During DEALL Week, regular academic classes are paused and you’ll choose from 25 options for how to spend the week. The options range from on-campus activities to local trips all the way up to international trips. You will be provided with opportunities and space to make connections with various communities around the world—applying knowledge and skill to exciting and challenging situations.

DEALL Week activities include international trips to study a combination of subject areas while connecting with a new culture, as well as domestic travel and local Bay Area adventures. Each activity is an opportunity to stretch your limits and engage in a hands-on learning experience while deepening your commitment to our community partners.

A sampling of DEALL Week activities and their descriptions are below.

List of 4 items.

  • Backpacking and Wilderness with Outward Bound California

    Students will backpack through Henry Coe State park with Outward Bound California. Through this backpacking trip, students will experience the pleasures and challenges of being in nature, build community with one another and gain independence, develop outdoor skills, engage in creative and reflective writing and learn about/appreciate the ecosystem of the location. 

    The hope is that students on this trip will be able to take themselves on their own backpacking trips in the future with skills and confidence.
  • Habitat for Humanity Gulf Coast

    11 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, residents of the affected areas are still rebuilding. Many of those families displaced from New Orleans moved into the town of Lafayette. The flooding of parts of Louisiana this past summer has also contributed to the great need to rebuild. Be part of that effort as Drew returns to the area to continue the efforts our school has made since 2005, lending a hand to Habitat for Humanity in Lafayette, Louisiana. Never swung a hammer before? No problem? Power tool aficionado? Awesome! No matter your experience level, bring your stamina and desire to make a difference.

    Make a difference in the lives of local families who are in desperate need of improved living conditions. Help Habitat for Humanity in their mission to provide families in our community with a springboard to secure, stable futures through affordable homeownership, financial literacy, and neighborhood revitalization. Drew has long been an active partner with Habitat for Humanity at various sites, locally and in other states.
  • Introduction to Robotic Vehicles

    Learn the fundamentals of Robotic Vehicles! Motors, controllers, basic programming, and circuitry. Control your robot with your phone. Program it to navigate mazes and maneuver around obstacles!

    Pick up small objects and move them somewhere else!
    Learn simple programming with loops, conditional statements, and subroutines, signal pulse control, basic circuitry, lever arm servo control, infrared sensing, IR controlling, etc.
  • Service Learning, Cultural Immersion, and Exploration in Guatemala

    This project takes place in rural communities in the mountains of Guatemala’s northwest region, Huehuetenango. Drew Students will stay and serve in the community of Calhuitz, San Sebastian Coatán, Huehuetenango. 

    Students will work with health workers providing community health outreach assisting health workers on home visits, working in community gardens and learning about local health issues and initiatives. 

    Drew students will also help improve and maintain local birthing centers by providing some construction labor. We will also experience the Guatemalan culture and learn about its history, health issues, socio-economic and political issues. This is a great opportunity to improve your Spanish while making a difference!

Experiential Electives

Experiential Electives expand your process of exploration and intellectual discovery. As regularly scheduled explorations within Drew’s academic schedule, you will select three Experiential Electives per year to delve more deeply into your individual interests and try new activities. The options change throughout the year. These electives are taught by Drew faculty who share and deepen their own passions with you.

List of 27 items.

  • American Power & The News

    There is always more to what you see and read in the news. The United States government and military wheels and deals on foreign soil every day, but how can American citizens know about what is going on when there is no news to read on our phones? In an era of "fake news" and escalating political tensions, sometimes the "fakest" news is what doesn't make the news at all.

    Identify these American power-related current events and ccatalog who reports what, and what they actually report. Who knows... you may just learn a skill that will serve you for a lifetime.
  • Avian Research

    Spend eight weeks engaging in research on bird populations! Autumn in the Bay Area is prime for birding, as local species mingle with migrants along the Pacific Flyway. Whether counting raptors (hawks, falcons, etc.) on Hawk Hill or surveying the Crissy Field marsh, you will be trained to identify species so you can support the work of ornithologists. Expect to have periods of zen-like focus and observation punctuated with the occasional excitement of a falcon kill or rare bird sighting. All experience and grade levels welcome.
  • College App Workshop

    Seniors! This is an optional opportunity to complete college applications with the College Counselors' support on a weekly basis. If you procrastinate, like to get ahead of things, want essay feedback or guidance, or if this seems like a great thing to do, please sign up! Cookies will be served.
  • Comic Art

    Create your own comics! Write and draw comic projects and learn about some of the techniques in making comic strips, cartoons, and graphic novels. You will create characters, practice penciling and inking, and more!
  • Contemporary Documentary Film

    You will explore the basics of documentary film with an eye toward critical evaluation of complex narratives and visual media. Documentaries highlight and illustrate important ideas in an increasingly complicated world. From the real to the surreal, you will explore your world and beyond through the medium of film.

    The course will focus on recent work in the genre and ask you to develop and apply a critical lens the social issues, narratives, and challenges posed by individual filmmakers. The course will require participation in group discussions and shared writing assignments.
  • Croquet

    You will play the fun team sport of croquet (hitting balls through hoops) at Hamilton Rec Center. Beginners are welcome!
  • Cycling

    This class is for beginning to advanced riders. In order to be in this course, you should be comfortable riding through vehicle traffic and experience in doing an endurance activity for at least one hour. Along with group rides where you will explore our beautiful city, we will discuss topics of maintenance and mechanics where you will learn more about how to care for and repair bicycles. You should plan to bring a geared bicycle and a helmet. If you do not have this equipment, and you are interested in this course, just let us know.
  • Debate

    You will learn the principles of debate, public speaking, rhetorical strategies and have the opportunity to debate important and controversial current events issues.
  • Empathy Through Improv

    This improvisational class will expand your capacity for empathy, creativity, and communication through the use of theatre games and improvisational exercises. Free your imagination and build confidence as you create characters and stories that challenge your way of thinking and encourage you to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Endangered California

    You will learn about endangered species of San Francisco and the environmental landscape of California in current times with attention to social and political factors. You will create a portfolio of wood rounds portraits of species working in gouache and mixed media focusing on specific attributes of species.
  • Flag Football

    Develop your football skills through various drills and activities. Each class will begin with a light jog, followed by in-depth stretching to loosen up for wide receiver and quarterback skill development. Once you have warmed up, teams will be chosen and games will be played.
  • Identity Studies

    Who are you? Where do you come from? What makes you who you are? What matters to you? In Identity Studies, you will explore yourself, your history, and your thoughts. Through activities and outside resources (speakers, films, trips), you will examine your multiple identities in order to understand how they intersect with and can shape our communities. Topics to be discussed include gender, family structure, socioeconomic status, age, privilege, religion, sexual orientation, and race.
  • In The Flesh

    Science and Art come together in this experiential elective as you explore the biggest and most visible human organ, skin.

    You will look deeply at flesh through the artistic lens of painting by mixing and rendering challenging flesh tones. You will sharpen your perceptive abilities and build your artistic confidence.

    As the first line of defense, the skin is exposed to all elements, such as sunlight, radiation, dust, pollutants, and practically anything harmful, but also sensitive to what goes into the body, including food. Skin is a window to someone's health. Tone and texture change over the course of the day, depending on level of activity, mood, and exposure to sun. They also change over a lifetime in more predictable ways, although lifestyle, diet, and ethnicity play into individual differences. We will be looking at the cellular and tissue structure of skin, its marvelous adaptations and defenses, and other characteristics such as healing, turnover, maintenance, and disorders.
  • Intramural Badminton

    Badminton is a fun sport very easy to learn but hard to master. If you are curious about this sport, come and try it. Most students who have tried it want to belong to our Varsity Team.
  • Intramural Basketball

    Develop the essential skills to compete on the basketball court. This course will include ball handling, passing and shooting drills as warm ups, followed by full court 5-on-5 competition. Takes place at the Hamilton Recreational Center on Post St. one block East of Divisadero.
  • Intro to Programming

    This is a beginner class for people who have never done computer programming before. You will learn the basics of computer programming while making fun pictures and animations!
  • Is Almodovar a Feminist?

    Almodovar is the preeminent Spanish film maker of international acclaim. His films are about women. More so than any other male director he explores the many roles of women in modern society. You will watch a selection of his work and decide for yourself how his art reflects both his view and your own views of what it means to be a woman. Movies will be screened in Spanish with English subtitles; some are R rated. Possible titles include: "Julieta," "Volver," "Talk to Her," "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," and "Broken Embraces."
  • Kids In the Halls

    What purposes does comedy serve? What makes something funny? Why are these things often hard to articulate? Discover the answers to these questions as you write, direct, perform, and film your own comedy sketches. This elective develops skills in critical analysis and creative collaboration while having fun!
  • Lean In

    This elective is all about community engagement. Each week, you will focus on supporting a worthy cause both within Drew's local community and beyond. Potential activities include letter writing campaigns, voicing our support via phone banks, food drives and more.

    In addition, borrowing from the Google policy which allocates 20% of employee time to work on personal projects, 20% of your time in this experiential elective will be dedicated toward personal projects near and dear to your heart. These projects are a great way to try out ideas for future senior projects.

    No experience necessary. Just come with an open mind and desire to give back.
  • Open Recording Studio

    Open Studio is where you can work on producing your own music! Come with ideas/themes/melodies and develop them with help from your colleagues and instructor. Learn how to produce using Logic, ProTools, Ableton, etc.
  • Portrayal of the Immigrant Experience in Cinema

    America is a nation of immigrants. Immigrants move to this country for various reasons (economic, political, refuge from crisis/persecution/war) and come with different experiences and expectations. You will watch movies that revolve around the immigrant experience--individuals, families, and first-generation American citizens. In your exploration, you will be addressing questions on reasons for immigrating, their hopes and aspirations, processes of assimilation, or lack thereof, and frustrations that underlie a common immigrant experience. Movies include "The Namesake", "In America", "Moscow on the Hudson", "Spanglish", and "The Perez Family".
  • Salsa Rueda: Basicos

    No previous experience required! You will learn and review basic salsa footwork and timing, and then proceed to a dynamic form of group-style salsa dancing known in Cuba as rueda de casino.
  • Salsa Rueda: Dame Mas

    In this course, you will progress beyond the basics, learning more complicated moves in the context of a called rueda. You will learn a fixed choreography to perform in either the Fall or Spring concert at Drew, in addition to other performance opportunities that arise.
  • Science Fiction Book Club

    Do you love science fiction? Are you willing to read something and talk about it? Are you curious how a particular branch of literature has changed over the decades? In this elective, you will read and discuss science fiction stories from some of sci-fi's past and contemporary authors.
  • Walking for Fitness

    Walking can be very meditative. This activity includes a brisk walk for fresh air and cardiovascular fitness, followed by a pause somewhere to reflect, at times individually and at times as a group.
  • Women & Body Image

    You'll explore societal expectations placed on women in regard to their bodies, the body positive movement, and ways to work towards a healthier image of one's own body.
  • Yoga & Mindfulness

    Come relax, unwind, and calm the mind and body in yoga and mindfulness practice. In this elective, you will learn the basic sun salutations, train the breath, and strengthen the muscles and bones with classic Iyengar-inspired yoga. You will learn a bit about the history, theory, and practice of yoga and practice some guided meditation and body scans. You'll spend time reflecting on how yoga and meditation can transform your physical and mental states and enhance your daily experience of the world. Through journaling, discussion, and partner exercises, you will share your growth with peers. Come expand your mind and reshape your awareness.

Senior Project

A capstone to each student's time at Drew, Senior Project challenges you to craft an independent project that enables you to explore an academic, creative, or professional interest that will facilitate your passage into a world beyond high school.

During the final three weeks of your senior year, you will engage with a self-developed essential question while interning or volunteering with an expert in your field of interest as you create a product that has a community-based purpose. To culminate the process you will present your product and experience to the Drew community. As a requirement for graduation, projects are reviewed by a panel of faculty and peers.

Summer Travel Programs

You have the opportunity to expand your learning as a global citizen through international travel programs around the globe.

Each program revolves around a service learning initiative and dedicated in-depth studies of sciences, languages, and culture. These experiences will help you draw connections between current and historical events, and explore the diversity of the human condition.

These opportunities are open to all Drew students and recently graduated seniors.

Experience What High School Should Be

Drew knows and believes in teenagers. We engage each student in a process of intellectual discovery to develop an individual voice, the confidence to express it, and the empathy to understand its impact.
© 2018 Drew School. All Rights Reserved.