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It’s often on a camping trip, whether it’s to a familiar stretch of California coast or backpacking into the Sierra Nevada wilderness, that Sequoyah students try and succeed at something they have never done before. When they are young this might mean going on a trip without a parent for the first time, or hiking beyond the desert oasis nearest to the campground. By junior high it has meant climbing a rock face in Joshua Tree, and spending time solo in a Redwood forest — outside of their comfort zone.

Building on the traditions of camping and field studies in our K-8 program, students in the high school take on increased ownership for research and decision-making in the field. Graduates leave Sequoyah as comfortable leaders, knowing the importance of preparation and teamwork. They are mindful travellers who bring a sense of wonder and determination to each new venture.

2016-17 trips : destinations


To prepare graduates for a highly interconnected world facing complex social and environmental challenges, students are required to complete a four year Social Innovation Program (SIP) designed to not only cultivate students’ empathy, and passion for doing good, but the foundational skills of social entrepreneurs.

These skills include ethical decision making, research, including ethnographic methods and statistics, an ability to take a systems approach to problem solving, practical knowledge of innovation strategies, and an understanding of what leads to sustainable impact.

Developing successful impact projects will encourage each student to focus their time, energy and interests. In doing so they will be answering questions like: What does it mean to be a social entrepreneur? How should social entrepreneurs approach local issues in a globalized world? How can I have a lasting impact? How can I apply my understanding and learn from professionals?

The impact project team will demonstrate their collective understanding of the scope of the challenge, encompassing an awareness of cultural context, stakeholder perspectives and needs—what has not worked and why —using feedback to describe what indeed may work and how. The project team will be assessed on their critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration.

Meet SIP advisors

Social Innovation ProgramADVISORS

Mariana Amatullo
Vice President, Designmatters Art Center College of Design
Ph.D in Management (Designing Sustainable Systems) Case Western Reserve University
Marie-Aimee Brajeux
Social Enterprise Consultant; Ph.D. Queen Mary, University of London
Lorena Garcia-Duran
Director at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public; Universidad Pontificia of Salamanca, Spain
Laura Gowen
Counsel at Zest Finance; J.D. University of California Berkeley
Nicholas Haan
Global Grand Challenges Director at Singularity University; Ph.D. Geography, Clark University
Holly Kretschmar
Formerly led strategy and design research at IDEO; M.B.A. Kellogg School at Northwestern University
Scott Sherman
Director of the Transformative Action Institute; Ph.D. Environmental Studies, University of Michigan
Neela Rajendra
Director of Claremont McKenna Kravis Leadership Institute Entrepreneurial Initiatives; M.B.A. Wake Forest University
Jordan Wallens
Senior Development Officer
Boston Private Wealth Management
BA Cornell, MBA Michigan
Cynthia Willard
Echoing Green Fellow and Founder of the Utah Health and Human Rights Project; M.D. Stanford University


Students are invited to propose and develop one course for independent study that is not offered through the school’s academic program.

With the help of the student’s advisor, the student may identify a research question, plan a literature review, and design a comprehensive performance task to synthesize and creatively communicate findings from the study. The literature review may include formal interviews with experts, or literature created by organizations.