Change the Environment – Change the Outcome

San Miguel Academy collaborates with Hudson Valley education sites to expand learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom. Students are regularly off-campus and out-of-doors for environmentally-focused exploration and experiential instruction.


San Miguel Academy’s Project and Place-Based Learning Program is an interactive STEAM-focused approach that facilitates inquiry and investigation, and actively promotes career-ready skill development.  Inside and out of the classroom, the Project and Place-Based Learning Program engages students in learning that nurtures their natural curiosities. STEAM is incorporated into cross-curricular hands-on projects in which students are continually developing problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills.  By incorporating a wide range of learning modalities into the curriculum, the result is stronger links between formal content, understanding, and, ultimately, higher retention rates.  


The Project and Place-Based Learning Program was developed by San Miguel Academy staff and has been recognized worldwide for its effectiveness and innovation. San Miguel Academy staff have presented the program at international conferences in South Africa and Canada, as well as regional conferences throughout the United States. Together with our educational partners, Project and Place-Based Learning continues in the field at a wide variety of settings. Many San Miguel Academy students are learning about the environment through exploration for the first time in their lives. All of our students carry these newly obtained skills and knowledge to their secondary and post-secondary lives. 

Our Educational Partners make it possible! 

Storm King Art Center

Students in each grade work with educators from the Storm King Art Center on STEAM-based and art-focused projects.  Projects are begun at San Miguel Academy and culminate with two onsite visits to Storm King Art Center.

Storm King Art Center also hosts a two-week summer camp created specifically for San Miguel Academy rising 6th-graders, featuring hands-on, group building explorations of the many micro-environments at the Art Center. The camp is part of the Art Center’s commitment to developing educational programs and partnerships that have the greatest impact in the underserved Newburgh community. The unique outdoor summer learning experience that Storm King provides aligns with San Miguel Academy’s Project and Place Based Learning Program.  Spending two full weeks at the Art Center gives campers and instructors alike the opportunity for an in-depth experience, grounded in place-based learning, close-looking, and fieldwork. 

Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre outdoor museum and learning center with one of the largest collections of contemporary sculptures in the United States. Since 1960, Storm King has been dedicated to stewarding the hills, meadows, and forests of its site and surrounding landscape. Building on the visionary thinking of its founders, Storm King supports artists and some of their most ambitious works. 

Mohonk Preserve

Throughout the school year, sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders spend up to 15 full days at Mohonk Preserve where they learn about habitats and wildlife, and experience physical challenges, such as hiking, snowshoeing, and rock scrambling. Field topics include biodiversity, conservation, invasive species, recreational impacts on nature, trail impact assessment, glacier exploration, weather and climate change, winter ecology, prescribed fire assessments, and orienteering. Seventh and eighth graders also participate in the Junior Ranger program which features training in land navigation, rock climbing, backpacking, Leave No Trace environmental stewardship, and first aid.

The mission of Mohonk Preserve is to protect the Shawangunk Mountains region and inspire people to care for, enjoy, and explore their natural world. Mohonk Preserve protects and manages in perpetuity over 8,000 acres of mountain ridges, forests, fields, streams, ponds, and other unique environments. It is New York State’s largest nonprofit nature preserve, welcoming over 200,000 visitors each year who come to rock climb, mountain bike, hike, ski, and study and enjoy nature.

Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center

Fifth graders are at Stony Kill Farm every other week throughout the year for a wide range of experiences. Students learn about typical farm animals and their life cycles, gardening and food systems, bees and beekeeping, birds, and the challenges and importance of forest and land preservation. Farm work and chores are an integral part of the program, including animal care, barn maintenance, and seasonal tasks such as maple syrup production, planting, and harvesting. Organizations such as the Verplank Garden Club and Battenkill Fibers work with students on special projects and crafts, including holiday plants with hand decorated pots and wool spinning, carding, and felting. 

Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center is a 750-acre farm on the ancestral land of the Wappinger and the former homesite of the Verplanck Family, who gave the land to the New York State Department of Education to be used as a teaching farm by SUNY Farmingdale in 1942. The farm and land were transferred to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 1973 and today, the historic grounds continue as a working farm. It was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1980.

Malcolm Pray Achievement Center

At the Malcolm Pray Achievement Center, students participate in a variety of projects and programs to learn about entrepreneurship, innovation, and automobiles. As part of the Michael Maluchnik Photography Seminar, 5th graders learned the fundamentals of photography from professional photographers using cars in the Malcolm Pray Collection.

6th graders read
The First Black Autos by Henry May and had the opportunity to meet the author and discuss the book. The First Black Autos chronicles the struggles and successes of the author’s distant relatives, the Patterson family, credited as America’s first African-American automotive pioneers

8th graders attended An Evening of Grit, a presentation on motivation and persistence led by Tom Deierlien, a retired U.S. Army Major, Operation Iraqi Freedom Vet, and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Tom is co-founder of the TD Foundation, a 100% volunteer organization that provides aid to the children of wounded warriors and fallen heroes. 

The Malcolm Pray Achievement Center in Bedford, NY, inspires visitors towards success through a world-class automobile collection and the entrepreneurial story of Malcolm Pray.  

The Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties

San Miguel Academy is participating in Root for Trees, sponsored by the Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties. Throughout the school year, students are working with garden club volunteers and local arborists to beautify Haible Way in Downing Park. The work includes planting sugar gum trees, daffodil bulbs, and acorns, as well as trimming and removing dead trees. 

Project coordinator Pamela Breeman: “Thanks to the students from San Miguel Academy who are making this project SO much fun for us and for the important work they are doing for the future of Downing Park.”

Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative

Students are working with The Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) to create a Fruit Tree Guild. Students and NUFFI volunteers will be planting and maintaining a collection of plants that work together to improve the health and productivity of fruit trees. With careful planning and care, Fruit Tree Guilds create productive ecosystems that offer solutions for soil fertility, water conservation, climate change mitigation, and animal habitat

The Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) is an active network of local residents and community organizations committed to food security, access, and justice in the City of Newburgh.

NUFFI is a multi-pronged initiative with three central focuses: providing fresh, local produce to the Newburgh community; educating and employing Newburgh residents; and supporting the development of community gardens.

Marblehead Farm

Each June, San Miguel Academy Santangelo Scholars spent time at Marblehead Farm in Virginia. Farm owners Georgia Derrico and Rod Porter are always generous in welcoming students to the farm for the annual visit, which features horseback riding, swimming, and other activities on their beautiful working farm near Middleburg, Virginia. 

Georgia’s brother, Mike Santangelo, Sr., formed The Michael G. Santangelo Jr. Scholarship Fund in 2013 following the untimely death of his son. The Fund provides donations to educational institutions and charitable foundations that administer scholarship programs to enable deserving students to attend a quality private high school that will make a lasting impact on the lives of the scholarship recipients.

The Michael G. Santangelo Jr. Scholarship Fund and other scholarships are a critical part of the San Miguel Graduate Success Program which supports students through high school, college, and other post-secondary options and into the workforce.