Saturday, September 30, 2023

The REACH Initiative at Hampton Roads Academy helps students make life connections


Hampton Roads Academy prepares students to excel intellectually, artistically, physically, and morally for higher education and for life.

Ask any adult and they will recall spending more than just a little bit of time in high school and middle school bored in class and wondering when am I ever going to use any of this stuff? This inability to connect our education to our lives wasn’t unique then—or now.

The basic system of education that we have in the United States is predicated on a model that was developed in the early 20th century to equip the future citizens of America—most of whom would not be attending college—with a serviceable bank of knowledge. It hasn’t changed much in the century since.  Even today, far too many classrooms will look relatively unchanged from the 1940’s. Desks, often twenty-five or more, are arranged in rows oriented toward a board or screen of some sort; the teacher’s desk will be set apart from the students, somewhere on the periphery; there will be various, inspirational aphorisms emblazoned on posters.  And what goes on in classrooms like these isn’t much different from the past either. Content is delivered from a lecturing teacher to a note-taking class. Assessments largely reward rote learning and organization.

Challenging the status quo

Is it any wonder, then, that so many students dislike school?  There are many ways that Hampton Roads Academy (HRA) challenges these tired and retro notions of pedagogy and learning; our varied learning environments and small classes promote seminar discussions, an intentional application of knowledge, and student/teacher relationships, among other programming.  The school seeks opportunities for its students outside the classroom, realizing that it is outside the classroom where the Eureka! moment often hits a student.

Introducing REACH

Hampton Roads Academy prepares students to excel intellectually, artistically, physically, and morally for higher education and for life.

The culmination of these efforts is the new REACH (Real-world Experience and Academic Choices) Initiative at HRA.  The REACH Initiative offers HRA students the ability to focus in a particular field of academic interest and pair these course offerings with the external opportunities that connect classroom learning to the outside world. There are six areas of academic focus: Applied Science and Technology, Environmental Studies and Outdoor Leadership, Global Studies, Health Sciences, Performing Arts and Humanities, and Visual Arts and Humanities.

Hampton Roads Academy’s REACH database, a comprehensive catalog of available internships, research opportunities, and other summer programs, helps connect all academy students to field-specific experiences that will not only make clear the connections between learning and real-world application but will also clarify and confirm for them a developing interest.

The Senior Project provides an opportunity for students to learn about a subject that sparks their curiosity, passion or interest.

The real benefits of success

The benefits of seeing the connection between one’s education and the rest of one’s life are, of course, vast.  So are the benefits of trying new things. Human beings crave meaningful work, and this fact is as true for an adolescent as it is for an adult.  Establishing profound connections early will help students engage and do well in their schoolwork; this academic success will then lead to them being successful college applicants and engaged college students; and this undergraduate thriving will in turn result in professional satisfaction.


How do you define success? Is it through good grades? Success in college?  Finding work that is meaningful? Hampton Roads Academy’s new REACH Initiative and database help its students find success in school and life!

To learn more about HRA’s new REACH Initiative visit or stop by HRA during Walk-In Wednesdays, any Wednesday from 9 a.m. – noon and tour HRA.

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