Winter Term

At St. Michael's, we believe that foreign exchange programs, international study, working internships, immersive and experiential coursework, and service to the less fortunate in the US and overseas have life-changing potential. To further our commitment to building personal growth and advancing the school's mission, we have launched the St. Michael's Winter Term Program, a unique academic, cultural, service, travel, and language immersion program now in its fourth year. 

St. Michael's was the first college preparatory school in Austin to institute a Winter Term of specialized study.

In addition to the multi-cultural explorations embedded in our curriculum, St. Michael's students have the opportunity to experience firsthand the people, environments, and distinct ways of life in specially selected countries and programs. Each Global Learning trip includes language and culture study, home-stays, and sightseeing. Whether hosting or traveling, our students experience firsthand the distinct and exciting cultures of the world in which they live. It is our hope that the Winter Term Program inspires students to become increasingly active, informed, and responsible members of their communities and the world.

Winter Term Program

List of 4 items.


    Winter Term is a three-week course of study in January during which students immerse themselves in a topic, subject area, or experience not offered through the traditional curriculum. It is a time for students to expand their intellectual and personal horizons and explore the world outside of the classroom. 

    For example, students might study Christian mysticism in Rome, delve into the history of naval warfare, explore a career as an architect through an onsite internship, or teach impoverished children in India how to plant a garden. The goal of Winter Term is for students to form new relationships with faculty and classmates and develop new perspectives on education, the world, themselves, and their spirituality through immersive and experiential learning.

    Too often, schools devolve into a series of classes designed to build a transcript and bolster a student’s resume to be competitive for the college of his or her choice.  There are many courses that comprise an academic foundation and represent our core academic experience. Electives enrich this core experience but are limited by the structure and timeline of the weekly course schedule and academic calendar.  The Winter Term provides students with the opportunity to expand awareness of themselves and the world around them through immersive and intensive learning experiences that are not available in the regular curriculum. This initiative reflects a St. Michael’s ongoing effort to enrich our students’ academic experiences and embrace a holistic approach to educating each student.  
    All of our students are individuals with talents, interests, and goals that are unique and should be explored, tested, and celebrated. Schools should be places of insatiable curiosity, discovery, and personal growth. We believe that the addition of a Winter Term has further developed those qualities in our students. More specifically, Winter Term affords our students the opportunity to:
    • pursue or discover academic passions outside of the standard curriculum;
    • benefit from the knowledge and expertise of our entire faculty, especially through interdisciplinary study, such as courses co-taught by Science and Theology faculty;
    • grow in compassion and social awareness through extended service learning opportunities;
    • deepen their faith through an academic or experiential encounter with spirituality;
    • travel globally for language and cultural immersion;
    • develop hands-on skills and interests through field-based and experiential courses; 
    • foster creativity and artistic expression.

    Winter Term is scheduled for January 4-24, 2020, immediately following Christmas break. Students will earn 0.5 elective credits per year for Winter Term by completing mini-courses, an internship, or overseas language, culture, or service opportunity. 

    • Mini courses:  These specialty classes are primarily taught by our faculty members but may involve guest teaching by local professionals.  Courses address topics that are substantive and academically rigorous, but do not quite fit into the traditional curriculum. Courses are considered academic or experiential – students may choose two courses from each category over their high school career.
    • Internships:  The internship is designed to allow to students to investigate areas of interest for further study in college and pursuit as potential careers. Students will research, interview, and work with staff to find an appropriate placement in a setting of their choice. Students will write a reflection of their experience and may be asked to share their findings within the broader school community upon successful completion of the internship and reflection.  
    • Foreign Language, Cultural Immersion, and Service Opportunities:  These exchange and travel programs coordinated by our Center for International Studies provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves culturally and linguistically. In an exchange, students attend school in another country and stay with a local host family. The students will also be expected to host a foreign student who attends St. Michael’s at a different time of the year. A second global opportunity offers students the chance to grow in compassion and awareness through service. Finally, students may choose an academic course taught by a St. Michael’s teacher in a setting outside the United States. 

    Foreign Language, Cultural Immersion, and Service Opportunities are listed below. 


    (Day trip to Toledo and three-day side trip to Andalucia included)

    Length: 15-17 days
    Cost: $2,500
    This will be our fifth exchange with our sister school, Highlands El Encinar in Madrid. Students will have the opportunity to experience school life in Madrid, improve their Spanish and make lifelong friends. Students who participate in this exchange will have the opportunity to host a Spanish student from Highlands in the fall of 2019. In Madrid, students will stay with an exchange student’s family as well.  Outside of school, students will go on excursions, including the Royal Palace, Prado Museum, Plaza Mayor and more! Students will also have the opportunity to see southern Spain with a trip to Andalucia and the city of Cordoba.


    Length: 10 days
    Cost: $2,500
    This trip is being offered in partnership with International Samaritan, a non-profit organization. Its mission is to alleviate poverty in “garbage dump communities” across the globe and raise awareness about the living conditions of the poor in the developing world. Students will stay at a retreat center near Guatemala City. Typical volunteer work may include: building homes for families, construction projects, or assisting in the classroom and helping students to learn English and other subjects. Volunteers may also work with local community members to construct new classrooms and improve the school environment.


    Length: 12-13 days
    Cost: $3,800
    Students will stay at a mission in Ecuador and teach English to children at the mission school. Students will also get a chance to see how life is at the mission, a self-sustaining facility feeding many in and around the town. In addition to service work, students will also get the chance to tour the ecosystem of Ecuador with its mountains, beaches, and forests. Included will be some sightseeing in the city of Guayaquil.


    Length: 11 Days
    Cost: $4,999
    South Africa was hailed as a beacon of hope to the world as it successfully transitioned to democracy from its brutal apartheid regime. However, the hopes of becoming a rainbow nation have faded as the country continues to wrestle with crippling inequality, social upheaval and injustice, despite having one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. The program offers students a unique opportunity to see how a nation is dealing with its multifaceted social challenges while also coming to grips with its traumatic past. Students will travel to Johannesburg, Cape Town, and end the trip with a safari at a game reserve. A flyer is included here.
    Students are responsible for all costs associated with travel.  Questions with regard to our Winter Term Global Opportunities may be directed to Carlon Haas at

Winter Term Reflections

“Clinic began at 9 a.m. with seeing patients in pre-op, post-op and new patients. At 2 p.m. we were in surgery again where the doctor removed the right side of a woman’s thyroid. It was very interesting but also scary to see someone’s throat open like that. But it was very cool to see the anatomy up close and personal. I even got to scrub in so I could be right next to the patient and see everything better." (Riley Cameron, '21)

List of 3 members.

International Travel: Carlon Haas
Mini-Courses: Heidi Sloan
Internships: Shannon Hudson
st. michael's catholic academy

3000 Barton Creek Boulevard   |   Austin, Texas 78735   |   (512) 328-2323   |
St. Michael's Catholic Academy is mindful of its mission to prepare the student holistically for leadership, service, and decision making consistent with Catholic values; and admit students of any race, color, or national and/or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to the school. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and/or ethnic origin, age, or gender in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate against students with special needs; a full range of services might not be available.