Learning about the natural world—and not incidentally falling in love with it—is unavoidable at Gould. It’s not just a one-off, Earth Day thing. In a broad sense, and in almost too many ways to list, developing a deep connection with the environment is an irreducible component of Gould Academy.
The relationship begins immediately, in the first moments of the first day, with orientation backpacking trips for all new students. It continues on Mountain Day—a jubilant, once-a-year, all- school celebration of the outdoors and the White Mountains of Western Maine.
It’s evident in the student sustainability group, Gould Goes Green; in the Outing Club; in fly fishing excursions. It underlies enthusiasm for activities like surfing, hiking, canoeing, skiing, ski patrol, snowboarding, mountain biking, wilderness first aid, and the Farm and Forest program.
It’s the motivation behind Polar Bear swims in ice-covered Songo Pond. It’s an undeniable result of the Junior Four Point winter camping trip, a graduation requirement.
“I don’t think you can have a Gould education without expanding your knowledge of the natural world,” says Spanish teacher Tracey Wilkerson P’25, a veteran faculty member who for many years advised Gould’s Farm and Forest program. Wilkerson also provides regular support for Earth Day programming and for Gould Goes Green; she and her family live on a working farm in Bethel.
“[The natural world] is central to who we are and central to how we operate. A lot of that is our location, but it’s also how we choose to live in that location,” Wilkerson explained.
Sara Shifrin ’88, P’19, P’23 Director of Innovation and the IDEAS Center.
Learning by doing is the most effective way to engage students so that they become critical thinkers and ponder deeper questions.