The school day might officially end at 3:45 p.m., but after hours at elementary are anything but quiet. On a walk from the Commons to the Library, you might encounter a robot wheeling around campus, budding artists molding pottery, or, if you’re especially stealthy, a Young Ninja hiding in the bushes—all while notes from the Courtyard piano linger in the air. It’s all part of Wildwood’s elementary enrichment program, designed to nurture young learners and incubate their curiosity outside of the classroom.
"Enrichment classes are a great way to try out a new hobby, strengthen skills in a passion, and make new friends," says fourth grade associate teacher Leslie Troy, who has led Wildwood’s elementary enrichment program for 20 years. "It’s the perfect combination of learning and fun."
While enrichment offerings have been a hallmark of the elementary experience for decades, coming out of the pandemic, the program has taken on extra significance as children reconnect with one another and build social-emotional skills, according to Leslie.
"Learning and development often occur beyond the walls of our classrooms," says Melanie Benefiel, assistant director of elementary and director of auxiliary programs. "These types of opportunities have been limited throughout the pandemic, and now that we’re able to offer a full pallet of activities, students and faculty are eager to dive in."
It’s no surprise then that the Fall 2022 Enrichment Program is the largest and most attended on record. More than 20 enrichment classes are currently in operation, with more than 200 elementary students enrolled—63 percent of Wildwood’s elementary student population.
Courses vary by day of the week. For instance, on Mondays you might find students practicing gymnastics or coding a video game, while Tuesday’s offerings include Broadway Revue and No Limit Math, among several other options. Classes are taught by Wildwood faculty and specialized outside instructors, as well as a few Wildwood alumni.
"So many alumni have fond memories of our enrichment program and love coming back to share their interests with current students, Melanie says. “It truly speaks to the lifelong impact of the Wildwood experience."
Among the newest offerings this fall are No Limit Math, Writing Adventures, Music Studio, and Readers Theatre.
"From jewelry making to soccer, music to crochet, there really is something for everyone!" Leslie says.
While some offerings, such as gymnastics, have been a part of the program for years, Leslie is continually adding courses and enhancing the offerings based on the interests of the students and the faculty who teach.
"Wildwood is a participatory adventure where students take an active role in their education—developing skills for their own learning and interests," Leslie says. "Enrichment is a great opportunity to explore or discover newfound passions. Find something you like, then go for it!"
- Fall 2022