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.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Next Year

This post is in case you are surfing the web, have come across this blog and are thinking, "These students have done some very cool stuff... I wonder what they are doing now?"

Based on the huge success of this class, the school is conducting a new interdisciplinary class during the 2011-2012 school year. The design is similar, the sweat equity just as important, the growth as wonderful to see, and the destination is Puerto Rico. I hope you'll check out our blog, and see what the Lister Leaf Busters are doing now.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

End of the year

It has been very difficult to keep up with the blogging during the second semester, and especially since returning from Costa Rica. On June 20th, the students exhibited their final projects, allowing them to share all of their hard work and vital growth that took place throughout the year. I encourage any and all readers to check out the student blogs (links are on the right), where they uploaded digital versions of their projects. Winston's project was presented at the Portsmouth Sustainability Fair, and can be seen in a post below, or at our YouTube Channel.

Thank you again for all of the incredible help and support that we received, and I hope that you will continue to follow next year's Sustainable Education class - modeled after this year's Costa Rica class. Please check out the video for next year's class on our YouTube Channel.

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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back to School

We're back at school and the students are starting to shift back into their research projects. It's a difficult transition for all of us, since it was only a few days ago that we were back in Costa Rica and enjoying much warmer weather. We worked hard while down there, but it's a different kind of work and everyone is wishing that we had a bit more time before returning to the classroom. Thankfully for all of us, the end of this week marks the start of a week's vacation - how much are tickets for a quick trip back to Monteverde?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday 4-12-11

It is 5am our time and we're getting ready to leave Monteverde for Arenal. We'll be whitewater rafting and planting trees on our way. Much of the group is a bit sad to leave here - it's been beautiful and a very family-like feeling while staying at the Valle Campanas. However, there is more of Costa Rica to see. We will likely have more limited internet access at the next two locations, so overnight, we uploaded some of the zipline and wildlife videos to the YouTube Channel. There's no way to edit them here, so you're getting us in our full glory. Here's a sample.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Hola!! Thank you for all of the great questions - here are our responses!

How hot is it? ~Maria

Around 60 when it is dark 80 when it is bright.

What was the forest like? Is there a lot of bugs? Is it humid? ~Connor

The forest is like the forest back home times 100! Everything is, greener,hotter,prettier. It can get humid, but for the most part its fairly dry.

How are you guys adjusting to the time difference? ~Katrina

It is very easy to adjust, the time difference is 2 hours, so 7am for you is 5am for us!

How big is the San Luis waterfall? ~Sean

1,603 meters... Side note- that is 300 more meters than the hike to get there!!!!

What was ziplining like? Have all of you been horseback riding before? Did you hike all the way up the cloud mountain? ~Jasmine

Zip lining was spectacular. Let's just say it felt like you were flying. No only 3 of us had previously been horseback riding. No we drove to the top of the "cloud mountain" then hiked around the top.

Do you have to climb the whole forest? ~Katie

No we don't have to hike everywhere, we get taxis for some trips ;)

Did you get to try any of the cheese?

Si!! It's a totally new flavor, delicioso!

Have you seen any wild animals: What does the Costa Rican flag look like?

Yes we some a monkey, some sloths , little bugs, a dead scorpion , and the works scariest crab that brittney f thought was a tarantula

We know It's red white And blue but we have not seen one

How hot is it in Costa Rica? ~Nathaniel

Refer to Maria's question :P

How much hiking have you done? ~Skylar

A lot, probably 5 is miles a day just walking about!

How was it seeing the sloths? Was the water from the waterfall warm? ~Chris

It was pretty cool !!!! No the water was absolutely freezing!

Thank you!!
April 8, 2011 12:35 PM

We are having trouble uploading videos to our pages, look to the student blogs, our Facebook and Youtube channel (hopefully) and such for the good stuff!!!!

Our itinerary for Monday is some are going on an early morning hike in the Children's Eternal Rainforest to try to see monkeys, while others get to experience real brown sugar making on the farm we're staying at. We leave Tuesday morning to go whitewater rafting on our way to Arenal. Pura Vida!