Spring Unit Program
A signature program for nearly 50 years, the Spring Unit provides two-week experiential learning opportunities for our Upper School students each May. Among the program’s hallmarks are immersive study, field work, and opportunities for regional and international travel. At its heart, the Spring Unit is a chance for students to explore new subjects and deeply engage in learning outside the traditional academic setting and beyond the traditional academic curriculum.
The Spring Unit and the ancillary lessons of courage and collaboration that it embraces stay with our students long after the two weeks draw to an end. While it is often transformative, it is also joyful. At a time when most schools are winding down and new learning is rarely introduced, the academic year at Gill St. Bernard’s is reborn. The last two weeks of May and the anticipation and preparation that precede them fill our campus with energy, purpose, and a sense of shared adventure.
Those new to the Spring Unit often assume that it centers around travel.
While there are long-distance options each year, there are also numerous local and regional offerings.
Almost all of these include exciting day trips—to major cities, museums, sporting events, performances, and outdoor activities—that still allow students to be back on campus by day’s end.
Reflecting the school’s motto, Schola Munda Est ("The World Is Our Classroom"), the Spring Unit offers an array of travel opportunities in the United States and abroad.
These combine a specific service initiative or educational focus with the broader benefits of travel.
These includes: learning firsthand about different regions and cultures, language immersion, and making connections to the larger world. Recent travel offerings have included rebuilding hurricane damaged homes in the Florida Keys, chronicling environmental sustainability in Iceland, exploring art and culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, helping to renovate a home for underserved children in Peru, and learning about the history and culture of Dynastic China. Gill also offers summer travel excursions led by GSB faculty each June.
We believe that service should be an authentic expression of our students, reflecting their innate compassion and generosity, as well as their desire to contribute to the larger world. For this reason, the school encourages, but does not require, community service.
GSB students reward this trust, investing themselves in service with more creativity, energy, and love than could ever be mandated.
Nowhere is this commitment more evident than in the Spring Unit, in which service-focused activities—whether local, regional, or international—are among the most popular, and many consider them the most rewarding.
Each year several internship opportunities for juniors and seniors in good academic standing are offered. Partnering with professionals in the field, many of whom are GSB alumni, students explore career possibilities and make valuable connections to those established in the field. Typically, two students work with each mentor during the internship program. While new internship opportunities arise each year, offerings generally include entrepreneurship, law, medicine, veterinary science, physical therapy, education, cybersecurity and information technology, and social media and communications. In addition to internships, there are several opportunities that introduce students to potential careers, such as sports broadcasting, screenplay writing, and engineering.
In 2018, the school introduced international summer travel offerings modeled after the Spring Unit. These trips provide additional travel opportunities for interested students and also offer an alternative for students whose extracurricular commitments conflict with Spring Unit travel schedules.
Summer trips are led by full-time GSB faculty members and focus on core principles of service, cultural immersion, deeper engagement with a subject, and health and wellness.
Our first summer offering was Nepal in 2018, followed by the Galapagos Islands for the summer of 2019.