Founded in 2011, Tahoe Expedition Academy (TEA) is an independent Pre-K through 8th grade school in Lake Tahoe, California. TEA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Since its inception, TEA has nurtured a successful partnership with EL Education, which now includes 170 schools and nearly 50,000 students nationwide, to collaborate with a professional network of schools and educators and to validate our program. EL Education is a proven model for educational reform that has gained national recognition.
Our approach is centered around three guiding principles – academics, character, and adventure. They provide anchor points for all of the work we do with our students. We are proud of these guiding principles, which we value equally in our mission to cultivate intellectual growth, character, and confidence.
Tahoe Expedition Academy’s engaging academics and real world adventures empower students to reach their full potential by cultivating intellectual growth, character and confidence.
The following three pillars, academics, character and adventure, provide anchor points for the work we do with our students. We are proud of these guiding principles, which we treat as equals and make us unique in our mission to foster meaningful student engagement.
When it comes to educating young people, TEA stretches the imagination by teaching outside the walls of a traditional classroom. TEA provides a forward-thinking approach to learning that takes students into the breathtaking beauty of the Tahoe Basin and the world beyond the Sierras. Here, students aren’t confined to a desk or a standard. Instead, they engage with educational adventures, character development and ‘survive and thrive’ experiences that push them to the boundaries of their intellectual, social and personal comfort zones, where we believe learning really happens. The extraordinary teachers at TEA create Learning Expeditions – long term, “inch-wide and mile-deep” thematic units – to make academic content come alive for students. Through our innovative teaching methods, TEA instills in each young person a love of learning as well as a profound appreciation for their community and the natural world.
At the foundation of our academic program, lies an inquiry-based curriculum that teaches critical thinking — a crucial skill for professional, academic and personal success. Our student-centered approach to education empowers children to solve complex, real-world problems and to communicate those solutions effectively in speaking and writing. In addition to learning core academics like mathematics and the arts, students regularly engage in literacy-rich, science-heavy projects to gain a deep understanding of the subject matter. Students in 1st Grade published a Field Guide and presented it at the Migratory Bird Festival in South Lake Tahoe, for example, and Middle School students met with members of the Squaw Valley Development team and followed up with letters regarding their plan to import water into Olympic Valley for the future development of a water park. Products like these allow students to take their learning beyond the classroom walls, to demonstrate their ability as thinkers, authors and doers and to develop the skills and confidence they need to be successful in today’s dynamic world.
Building character and community are not add-ons to our program; rather, they are embedded throughout the school culture and curriculum. Our school counselors and teachers have created and implemented a social-emotional learning program, for instance, and school-wide character values act as the cornerstones of the work we do as well as the relationships we create. From completing our unique ‘survive and thrive’ experiences and from proactively building character, students learn how to overcome adversity, to make ethical decisions and to become great leaders. Further, through service-oriented projects and field studies, TEA students act as citizens and stewards in order to positively impact the communities and the natural world around them.
Our students actively participate in hands-on, academic adventures on a regular basis. In addition to building knowledge in the classroom, students spend up to ⅓ of their time in the field working with experts and engaging firsthand with content and skills. Upper School students, for instance, traveled to Panama to study the Panama Canal and the global economy, and they visited the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute there, a world renown epicenter for scientific study, to investigate the relationship between the synthetic and natural worlds. Lower School students spent 3 days and 2 nights winter camping in the Sierra to research the snowpack and to make forecasts about run-off and the water table. Both in the classroom and on these types of field studies, teachers serve as mentors and guides who challenge, support and inspire students. Moreover, our talented teachers encourage students to take calculated risks, to produce quality work and to realize their potential as scholars in the process.