Peak Learning Experiences

Those of you that have been married for some time likely know that “look” your spouse gives you that clearly says without a word spoken, “What have you gotten us into now!” My wife Wendy was sending this look in my direction as we listened to our mountain guide describe how our four-day “extreme trekking” experience would take us over several peaks of Canada’s Caribou Mountains, many still covered in snow and ice.

Scaling the first of many steep pitches

Climbing the steep cliffs was going to be a daunting task, but learning that we would also be repelling down sheer cliff faces was even more frightening. As we listened to the guide, I began to reflect on all the responsibility waiver forms I was required to sign to join this trip and knew that in the fine print, our lives were in our guide’s hands. I could only hope that he was going to be an exceptional teacher.

Our group also consisted of a Brazilian and an Irish family and once introductions were complete, our guide started his “class.” Fortunately, he didn’t begin by telling us we would be tested by harsh conditions en route to a 3,000 meter peak, and that if we didn’t follow his directions we risked a fatal fall…which would be considered a failing grade. Instead he filled us with confidence that we were up to the task, familiarized us with the tools we would need to be successful, and then patiently and thoroughly prepared us for the challenges ahead.

Before we began, I honestly didn’t know if my 9 year-old son was physically up to the task. After the overview, I thought it was quite possible that my 12 year-old daughter would simply refuse to go further. (To be honest, I was hoping one of them might give me an excuse to back-out of an experience I wasn’t sure I was ready for myself. ) Fortunately we were in the hands of a master teacher and before I knew it, he had turned three novice mountaineering families into a talented and fearless herd of mountain goats. What had once seemed insurmountable became a reason for pride and celebration.

Exhilaration and success at the finish

It would take a book to share all of the laughter, screams and knocking-knees that filled our four-day journey. Let me simply say that it was a wonderfully exhilarating and growth-filled experience that will last a lifetime.

As I returned to Germany to begin another school year, it was clear to me that our great FIS teachers in Oberursel and Wiesbaden are doing what that Canadian guide did for his Brazilian, American and Irish pupils. Students come to FIS and are inspired to learn and take appropriate risks overcome any obstacles they may face. Their success helps them to become independent and responsible, adapt to change , and eventually reach new heights that were previously thought to be unattainable.

Regardless of whether a student is challenged by learning a new language, understanding the Stoichiometry unit in Chemistry, overcoming stage fright, or simply making new friends, I have every confidence that FIS is the right school to help bring about success. May the year be filled with new peak experiences for your children, achieved one step at a time under the formative guidance of our superb faculty.

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