Why This Teacher Loves When Students Ask: “Can I Drop This Class?”

On the Summit Sparks Podcast: Kristina Bockhold

This week on the Summit Sparks podcast we speak to Kristina Bockhold, Summit Public Schools’ assistant school director of Expeditions, an immersive electives model. She shares why exposing high schoolers to as many real-world experiences as possible is essential for helping them find a life path.

The transcript below has been edited for clarity and is a condensed version of Bockhold’s full interview. Find this and all episodes at

If you had to explain what Sense of Purpose is to a group of 10th graders, how would you describe it?

I would be careful to not make it sound like a one-stop target… I would describe it as the thing that is a directional force for you to wake up and be excited about every day. If it changes, I would tell them that is okay. Or, if… they feel like they have purposes in different [areas of life], that’s okay too… It’s going to motivate you, but it’s not necessarily ever going to stop at one thing and just stay [in one place], and that’s 100 percent fine.

What do you see as the connection between Summit’s Expeditions program and helping students explore and develop Sense of Purpose?

Being in an immersive electives model allows [students] to interact with people that are in an actual field of study. For example, our students in our Sociology of Law class go down to the courthouse and listen to commissioners speak on the issues that directly relate to [students’] lives.

We also have the [Expeditions] courses taught by people that are professionals in that field. Exposing students to both an authentic audience, the real-life experience of what a career in that field could look like, and also having them do schoolwork that is related… ties together a much bigger picture than just doing a one-off assignment that they move past later on.

What is the outcome of those experiences by the time [students] graduate high school?

It’s going to look different for different students. Some students… their end goal is to find a field of study that they are really passionate about, and in their junior and senior year find an internship somewhere outside of school and participate in that internship during Expeditions… Other students want to [try] every different type of Expeditions and find something they’re really interested in… Others want to find a track and dive deeper every single year. The opportunity to expose students to the path that’s going to make the most sense to them is what the overall goal is of Expeditions.

When I’m on site I will have students come up to me and say, “I really don’t feel like this course is what I want to do with the rest of my life. Can I change?”
I actually love when students come to that conclusion.
That self-awareness is all part of being able to make the most informed decision in life.

Do you have any great stories to share about alumni?

I was in Guatemala over the summer with a group of current high school students through a nonprofit program, and one of the students, a college student, joined us through this nonprofit program; she also went on this trip when she was in high school. She got into… women empowerment in developing countries and created a nonprofit.

She got into this work because, during Expeditions, she was able to shadow a Stanford professor that was focusing on women empowerment in developing countries… To meet this alumna in Guatemala, as I’m getting high-schoolers to navigate through the country, was such an inspiring opportunity.


Kristina Bockhold

Kristina Bockhold is Assistant School Director of Summit Public SchoolsExpeditions Program. In her role, she leads an immersive electives model at four different high-school campuses. Through off-campus internships and a wide variety of on-campus classes, students participate in real-world experiences throughout their four years of high school, leading to a furthered understanding and heightened awareness of their interests, values, and purpose. Kristina has a bachelor’s of applied science degree from Texas A&M University.

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About the author

Lauren Faggella
A storyteller and former educator, Lauren Faggella is dedicated to turning the Summit Learning community's stories and ideas into great content that informs and inspires a range of audiences. Prior to joining Summit Public Schools, Lauren was a professional freelance writer and third-grade teacher in Rhode Island. She earned her MEd from the University of Rhode Island and BA in English from Elon University.