Visit Reports
Visit Reports

Apr 24, 2006, 11:51

New Zealand's Community of Education and Learning
Kurow, New Zealand
Nathan Tompkins Founder
Jim Powell & Brandi Elliott - Admissions

Visit By: Lon Woodbury, March 10, 2006

[Note: At the time of this visit report, Brandi Elliott and Jim Powell were doing admissions. We have been informed that Nathan Tompkins is now the Admissions Director and can be reached at 213-988-0718.]

Nathan Tompkins is an energetic young man whose vision is to build a school for young men and help them discover their unique potential through compelling topics and real life experiences. This vision incorporates three foundational concepts.

The first centers on his personal history with formal schooling; traditional education methods failed to take advantage of his excited spirit and high level of energy. The cliques and materialism most students display in a traditional school setting disturb him, thus his desire to develop a school that does better for its students.

The second foundation for his vision dates back to his youth and his positive experiences while living in Campbell Park in New Zealand's south island. Campbell Park is an 1100+ acre estate that offers the warm feeling of a community, partly because it already incorporates all the elements of a self-contained community. It is fully equipped with dormitories, living areas, staff homes, classrooms, indoor gym, indoor pool, outdoor sports courts, fields, etc. It is operational with opportunities for young men to work with viticulture/ horticulture orchards, automotive repair and restoration, woodworking labs, and fully operating sheep and cattle farms. The outdoor component of the school will include hiking, camping, water sports, climbing and exploring. Campbell Park has virtually everything available that a student might need for a well-rounded education. My walks across the campus were always pleasant, similar to walking around a small town where everybody knows everybody else. There was a sense of community.

The third foundation is New Zealand's abundance of outdoor natural resources as well as its slow and healthy lifestyle. The people of New Zealand appear accepting and appreciative of the curious nature of young people, which will support the learning and growing of young men in the country's healthy atmosphere and bi-cultural tolerance. In many ways, the New Zealand culture seems to be what the rest of the world used to be in an earlier and safer era. Additionally, within a three-hour drive of Campbell Park, the students can experience ocean beaches and lagoons, mountains that tower up to 12,000 feet above sea level, geological and archeological sites, abundant boating and fishing opportunities, rock climbing and much more. As an aside, and for a view of the countryside near Campbell Park, much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed near the Estates showing the mountains the students will have access to. For the Lord of the Rings fan, there are tours of the major sites that were used in the filming, something some students might want to explore.

Plans are to open enrollment later this year for young men, ages 16-19. This will not be a Special Needs school or a school for students with behavioral/ emotional problems. The students the school wants to work with are much like Nathan was at that age, capable young men who may be performing below potential, struggling within traditional academic settings and/ or tired of the material trappings of metropolitan lifestyles.

The school is already interviewing for teachers. They are seeking top educators with the track record and ability to challenge students. Academic achievement will be based on New Zealand's National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), which is an internationally recognized achievement-based standard. The staff tells me that NCEA is very flexible in recognizing and awarding achievement for a "broad range of learning interests, needs and styles… in different realms of knowledge, skill and understanding." Graduates under NCEA recognized curriculum have had no problem gaining admission into the world's top Universities. Since New Zealand is very much an international community, with world travel a common occurrence for many, Campbell Park wants to mirror that with a school that offers an international flavor with students from all over the world.

Once a student has graduated from the Campbell Park School, the way is open to stay in New Zealand for college since the School has been working with quality local colleges and universities that will allow the graduate an easy transfer. In addition, those college level schools are willing and able to provide helpful resources for students working on projects that require well-equipped college resources.

Campbell Park has a very broad view of the type of learning a school should provide their students, bringing mental, physical, character, moral and emotional elements into the learning experience. Students and teachers will pursue long-term investigations built around significant projects and active learning. They will promote student-generated "guiding questions." With an inquiry-based approach, the students can pursue cross-curriculum themes, which will include active involvement in the greater community - local, national and/ or international arenas.

The vision for the Community of Education and Learning at Campbell Park is for a school that succeeds in providing the challenges that bright young men need, and a school able to provide for individual differences in interests and abilities in an environment that is safe both physically and in personal growth. The goal is to offer an experience that prepares them for a future in the global 21st century. An appropriate student would be one who is functioning in a more or less positive manner, but looking for more ways to test and experience life and all the challenges that come with that.

Campbell Park's philosophy is found within an old Chinese Proverb:

"Tell me and I will forget.
Show me and I may remember.
Involve me and I will understand."

© Copyright 2012 by Woodbury Reports, Inc.