Dudley Humphrey is Taking Learning to New Heights

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Dudley Humphrey is Taking Learning to New Heights

On sunny days in Shaker Heights, Dudley Humphrey can be found outside on Hathaway Brown’s campus, tucked into the woods on the southwest corner, helping students uncover a new sense of confidence and empowerment – 40 feet off the ground.

Humphrey is a physical education teacher and the director of Adventure Learning. His role encompasses instruction across Primary, Middle, and Upper School divisions, caring for HB’s outdoor challenge course, developing the Adventure Learning curriculum, and expertly handling the fears (and tears) that sometimes precede students tackling the day’s activity.


The outcomes of these experiences, according to Humphrey, reach far beyond physical capabilities.

“I love seeing kids who don’t think they can do something go out and crush it,” he said. “Watching students push past their comfort zones is rewarding for me and most importantly, the students.”

One of the cornerstones of Adventure Learning is a concept called “challenge by choice,” an important philosophy for each student to determine their comfort level and push themselves as much as they can.

“Experiential learning is important for students to immerse themselves in something, discover the value and apply the lessons they learn to other parts of their lives,” Humphrey said.

About Adventure Learning 

HB offers progressive experiences in Adventure Learning as part of the PE curriculum that builds with a foundation in the younger grades but start in earnest as students enter Middle School.

“We begin with group challenges, trust-building activities, and team initiatives,” Humphrey explains. “Through Middle School, students are exposed to low elements on the challenge course that address lessons in communication and accommodate differences in a group.”

In the Upper School, ninth-grade students culminate their Adventure Learning experience by rappelling from the outdoor high ropes course. By this time, students know how to belay – serving as climbing partners on the ground using techniques to secure tension in the climbing rope and ensuring safety for their classmates.

“We debrief after most classes about what strategies worked and what values were important,” Humphrey said. “Students learn to trust one another. They take advantage of leadership opportunities and they learn to take risks, even without a guarantee of success.”

These lessons are at the heart of the Adventure Learning curriculum, which truly supports the school’s mission to prepare students not for school, but for life.

“I’m not going to pretend there are never any tears,” Humphrey said. “But tears don’t mean you have to quit. I can’t tell you how many students finish the challenge on the high ropes course smiling through the sobs, proudly yelling ‘I did it!’”

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