AWHS introduces new upperclassmen academy, “Team”

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Neve Marin Rue Galmarini

Team students experience learning surrounded by nature, one of the assets of the program.

On Monday, Jan. 10, Interim Principal LaSandra White announced through an email to sophomores that AWHS will offer Team, an experiential outdoor program previously led at Tamiscal, for juniors in the 2022-23 school year. 

Team is a free program designed for students who thrive more in a non-traditional environment. Through its focus on community service and its smaller cohort of students, Team offers a new educational approach while building a tight community of students.

“I would describe Team as an experiential education program that combines outdoor learning through backpacking and hiking and ropes courses, with internships, community service, and a cohort of a community of academic learning inside and outside the classroom,” said Team and English teacher Diana Goldberg.

In 1990, Chuck Ford founded Team at Tamiscal High School, involving a small group of students from all over the Tamalpais Unified High School District (TUHSD). After 30 years, in 2020, the program was subject to budget cuts. The program didn’t run for two years until TUHSD Superintendent Tara Taupier instigated the idea of restarting Team at a larger district school. With the upperclassmen academy system already in place, AWHS seemed like the ideal place for the Team program to continue.

“I think it’s really valuable to let students start to feel what it’s like towards college and life…and that’s why I’m really glad our school has… SEA-DISC, ComAcad, and Team,” said Team and Drama teacher Jasper Thelin.

Thelin hopes the program will provide an opportunity for students to adapt to post-pandemic learning. He believes it’s a way to get students off their screens and out of their seats, something he has seen students in Team do before.

“Kids who came back for their senior year, every time, were transformed in their skill set and their confidence of taking charge of their education and knowing that the world is full of options and possibilities,” Thelin said.

The program will accept 28 new juniors each year; by the time the 2023-24 school year rolls around, there will be a total of 56 students in Team. Interested students will fill out a form to be admitted into the program in a lottery-style system.

In each students’ first year in Team, there will be four required classes: English, Wilderness Medicine, Workplace Learning, and Team Leadership. Goldberg will teach English following the regular junior and senior curriculum, as well as adding project-based learning and focusing on the history of the local land. The wilderness medicine course is the only one of its kind throughout all high schools across TUHSD. overing everything from mosquito bites to deep gashes and ending with a certification process for first aid in the wilderness.

Kids who came back for their senior year, every time, were transformed in their skill set and their confidence of taking charge of their education and knowing that the world is full of options and possibilities,”

— Jasper Thelin

Workplace Learning will consist of two parts. In the fall, students will be placed in community service opportunities of their choosing, and in the spring they will participate in  internships in fields that appeal to them. The leadership class will be focused on the Team program as a whole; students will plan out adventures and how they want the academy to look in the future.

“[The leadership class] is looking at both leadership for the program, doing behind the scenes work of fundraising and planning trips in connection, working on leadership styles, and… figuring out your own leadership and growth,” Goldberg said.

As a new AWHS academy, Team will serve as a new option for students who enjoy the outdoors and experiential-based learning, while fostering leadership qualities in the process.