I hold an adamant belief that travel can be an invaluable, life-altering experience. Families that have the means to travel often see it as a luxury, and take for granted the incredible learning that they and their children gain. I work in an alternative high school – most of my students are from families that do not have anywhere near those kinds of means. Their experiences have been, in large part, a struggle and the larger world is mostly an abstraction – including the potential wonder and hope that it can hold. Monteverde, Costa Rica epitomizes that kind of wonder and hope – blending the culture of indigenous inhabitants with that of the American Quaker settlers that arrived in the 1950’s, and balancing a model of conservation with becoming an international eco-tourism destination. The book, Walking With Wolf, tells this story in a remarkable way.
We are now in the midst of a year-long interdisciplinary class that will include Walking With Wolf, student blogs (which I hope you'll check out on the right), individual research projects, and a 10-day trip to Monteverde this Spring. The students are working hard and must fundraise their entire way there - they need your help. If you are willing to support their efforts,
checks can be made out to “Lister Academy – Costa Rica Class”, and mailed to: Robert J. Lister Academy, Attn: Bryan Mascio, 35 Sherburne Road, Portsmouth, NH 03801.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Winston's Project for the Sustainability Fair

As we read Walking with Wolf, studied different aspects of Monteverde, and prepared to travel to Costa Rica, students developed and began their individual research projects. Many changed and evolved as we gained better insights and everyone is now hard at work on their projects. Winston's project developed into a presentation for Portsmouth's 4th Annual Sustainability Fair. Winston has been one of our most vocal students regarding the unique power of this class, and creating a presentation for this forum is a natural fit. He created a video that looks at our class through the lens of sustainable education. He asks the question of what makes for true sustainable education - that will inform and inspire students in such a way that they will become the change agents we so desperately need - and whether or not our class is a model for that. I hate to ruin the ending, but his conclusion is a resounding YES - so please check out his video to see why.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Looking to Next Year

Even while I was in Costa Rica, students were asking me what we're doing next year. In truth, I had also been thinking about it, but hadn't come to a certain conclusion. I listened intently, though, to some of their insights about the value of our class and the particular aspects that they grew from. After returning, I consulted with the rest of the staff at the Lister Academy and my principal, Nancy. Despite being exhausted from the trip, my devotion to the power of hard work and travel as a transformative experience, is stronger than ever. I spent this past weekend creating a video to introduce the possibility to the student body, and this morning received an excited response as I showed it in our morning meeting.

Who knows what next year will bring, but I know it'll be powerful.