Author Archives: Office of Alumni and Development

Suzie Coughlan ’77: Powered by Optimism, Life is Good

by Anne Patterson, Assistant Director of Development and Alumnae/i

If you are looking for inspiration, look no further than White Mountain alumna Suzie Coughlan ’77. A friend of Suzie’s recently shared the following, “This incredible, amazing optimistic, courageous powerhouse of a person has brought strength, light, and focus to so very many over the years.” We wanted to share her story with you.

Suzie enrolled at The White Mountain School in 1975. She grew up in Montreal but had visited the Bethlehem area many times with her family. Her late mother, Mary Newcomb Coughlan, who died in May 2020, graduated from St. Mary’s-in-the Mountains in 1949. After attending an Alumnae Reunion with her mother, Suzie fell in love with the School and transferred from a small private school in Montreal for her last few years of high school. At the time, as an international student from Canada and one of only a few from outside the United States, she was considered very unique! With her outgoing personality and positive attitude, she easily made many friends.

Suzie readily admits that one of her favorite things about White Mountain was that she got to ski every day. Another highlight was living in Hill House in the same room where her mother had lived. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was to be attending a school that encouraged outdoor activities in addition to a top academic program that prepared her for McGill University, where she studied after graduation. Following her graduation from McGill, she moved to Toronto, where she attended the Toronto Montessori Institute, a school for Montessori teachers. She went on to teach in Montessori schools in Canada and Massachusetts for over 28 years, retiring in 2011. An outdoor classroom is named in her honor at the Oak Hill School, a Montessori school in Littleton, Massachusetts. It was given by parents who wanted to recognize her excellence as a teacher.

In her few years at White Mountain, Suzie made close friends who are still part of her life today. In fact, friends from White Mountain, Camp Tanamakoon (the summer camp she attended for many years), and the Montessori schools where she taught are now part of a core group—in addition to her partner and other family members—that are helping Suzie. She suffers from inclusion body myositis (IBM), a rare, inflammatory, and degenerative musculoskeletal disease. Although IBM limits her mobility, it has not limited her positive outlook or her ability to try new activities. When she realized how much she missed skiing, her friends encouraged her to try adaptive skiing. Although reluctant at first, she was thrilled to be on the snow again with friends. She went on to try other adaptive activities, including soaring!

The accomplishment that makes her most proud is the group she formed in August 2018 that successfully achieved the summit during the Sunrise Ascent of Mount Washington. Her team, “Team Soo Soo,” raised more funds than any other for the Franconia-based Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country. As word has spread of Suzie’s team and news of her team’s accomplishment, support continues to spread. Suzie acknowledges Amy Bannon ’14, a former White Mountain teacher, for her encouragement and support. She also recognizes her partner, “Without Ronnie, I would not be managing this deteriorating disease the way I am. Our philosophy of life is ‘do more of what makes you happy.’ And we do! I am truly blessed.” One of their mottos is “Find something to smile about every day!”

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Donor Advised Fund Match! #MatchMyDAF

by Scott Hunt, Director of Development and Alumnae/i

There has been a nationwide philanthropic response to support non-profit organizations through donor-advised funds (DAFs). DAFs are a tool to facilitate your philanthropic giving. As DAFs increase in popularity and impact, here is how your DAF can support The Fund for White Mountain. Many of you are familiar with DAFs, and some of you have already given to White Mountain through a DAF. The following might encourage more of you to consider it as giving as a vehicle to The White Mountain School.

We have recently learned of a challenge as a way for White Mountain donors to make a greater impact with their giving. More than $140 billion sits unused in DAFs and community foundations across the country. The DAF Challenge aims to put these charitable dollars to work. Several financial organizations and a few individuals have created a $1.125 million general fund to match grants to organizations supported by #HalfMyDAF Heroes. Others have contributed an additional $2 million focused on supporting racial justice, climate and environment, education in underserved communities, and reproductive health. The goal of the matching gift challenge is to inspire giving and transform DAFs into powerful funding opportunities.

If you participate in the #HalfMyDAF challenge, it gives the School the chance to get matching grants from $10,000 to $100,000. The more people who nominate White Mountain, the better our chances. To facilitate using your DAF gift, we have added the DAF direct button to our website

Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicle in the United States because they are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to give to charity. A DAF is like a charitable investment account for the sole purpose of supporting charitable organizations you care about, like White Mountain. When you contribute cash, securities, or other assets to a DAF at a public charity such as Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Schwab Charitable Gift Fund, J.P. Morgan Chase, or Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund, among many others, you are generally eligible to take an immediate tax deduction. Then those funds can be invested for tax-free growth, and you can recommend grants to virtually any IRS-qualified public charity, including White Mountain!

Here is a simple explanation of how a DAF works:

A contribution to a DAF is an irrevocable commitment to charity; the funds cannot be returned to the donor or any other individual or used for any purpose other than grantmaking to charities.

You can make a tax-deductible donation via cash, stocks, or non-publicly traded assets such as private business interests, cryptocurrency, and private company stock to be eligible for an immediate tax deduction.

With a DAF, you generally can:

  • Support IRS-qualified public charities from your DAF. The public charity sponsoring your account will conduct due diligence to ensure the funds granted go to an IRS-qualified public charity and will be used for charitable purposes. 
  • Choose whether to recommend anonymous grants to the organization or to provide grant acknowledgment contact information with the recommendation. DAFs offer the option for anonymous granting for those who wish to recommend grants privately.
  • Specify a specific use, campaign, or purpose for your grant recommendation. While you cannot fulfill legally binding pledges with a DAF, you are able to attach a special purpose to your grants, which the sponsoring organization will relay to the charity. Similarly, you may make grant recommendations “in honor of” or “in memory of” a loved one.
  • With a DAF, you don’t have to keep track of every gift acknowledgment from every charity you support—just the receipts from your DAF contributions. When you’re ready to support your organization, you can simply log in to your account and recommend a grant to any IRS-qualified public charity. 
  • As soon as you make a donation, you are eligible for an immediate tax deduction, just as you would by donating to another public charity. 

The reasons listed above are just some of the benefits of donating via a DAF. If you have questions about making a gift to White Mountain using your DAF, please contact us. We hope you will consider the #HalfMyDAF challenge when making your gift to White Mountain with the potential of increasing your impact through their matching gift challenge.

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Sweet Success: Leah Foster ’21 Raises $490 in Fundraiser


Leah Foster ’21 has a busy schedule, but the more she has to do, the more she accomplishes. She carries a full academic schedule with five classes and also chorus, yet still finds the time to serve as chair of the Social Committee. As chair, she has organized numerous events for her classmates, such as the recent Winter Carnival, upcoming Lock-In, and other events specifically for the senior class. Recognizing the importance of the role, Leah shares, “Sometimes it’s easy to balance with classes, but other times it’s really difficult, and I end up prioritizing this role over other things. This role is important to me because, especially during COVID, I want to help students enjoy the year and still have fun even if it’s just restricted to campus.” She also uses her position as a platform to find ways White Mountain can give back.

Leah worked with Eben Kopp, acting director of student life, to think of a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and decided it made sense to choose something heart-related. Students across the country are getting active, learning about heart health, and raising money to fight heart disease. Leah wanted to help the American Heart Association (AHA) by sponsoring a fundraising initiative in connection with Valentine’s Day. For a few weeks leading up to the day, she promoted the sale of candy to share or give to a friend or loved one. Her efforts not only supported a worthy cause but selling candy satisfied the chocolate cravings of White Mountain students, faculty, and staff. From humble beginnings, the AHA has grown into the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The funds Leah and others help raise support life-changing research breakthroughs.

Service to our school community, the local towns, and the greater world is a major component of the White Mountain experience. This aspect of life is rooted in our Episcopal heritage, and it’s in the fabric of everyday life. We believe in giving back, which is why our students and faculty participate in some form of service regularly. Leah identified the AHA as an opportunity to participate and make a meaningful contribution. With the support of students, parents, and staff, she successfully raised $490! We are proud of her and grateful for her philanthropy.

Leah believes that White Mountain students can play a role in philanthropy and notes that other students have created fundraisers for causes they support in the past. “It can definitely benefit them in the future. Going forward, I can see myself doing something like this again in college and beyond.”

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

The Ski Hill

By Carol McEwan Powers ’69

I was recently asked if Hood’s Hill was always called Hood’s Hill. “No,” I replied. In fact, for the 16 years I spent at St. Mary’s (12 as a faculty child and four as a student), it was simply known as “the ski hill.”

We all have fond memories of places on campus that were central to life at St. Mary’s. The Great Hall, the Formal Garden, and the pond, to name a few. But as I began to think about the ski hill, I realized that it too was central to life at St. Mary’s.

Skiing was the major winter sport at St. Mary’s (there were no snowboards yet), and we all participated according to our ability. Although we skied at Cannon on weekends, we had “sports” four afternoons a week. We would side-step up the ski hill, from the lower fields all the way up the steep hill to the top, packing the snow as we went. From the expert skiers, including our top-notch ski team (coached by Odd Kilde), who practiced at the top, to the beginners who had lessons on the lower fields, the ski hill was a place we all utilized and enjoyed. I can also remember careening down from the top on a toboggan, sled, or a “borrowed” tray from the kitchen, always hoping to make it safely through the clearing in the trees at the bottom.

But the ski hill was used for more than just winter fun. During my student days, we used the lower field for lacrosse during the fall and were coached by Fred Steele, “Fearless Fred.” To quote Fred*, due to the slope of the field, “instead of ‘left’ or ‘right’ we referred to the ‘uphill or ‘downhill’ wings.” The same applied to the upper field, where we played soccer, which had an even more pronounced slope. The lower field became our softball diamond in the spring, and it was definitely an uphill run to first base! Although we played softball against other local schools, I don’t ever remember having a home game. The distinct slope of the field may well have been the reason!

And then there was Field Day. A full day of athletic competitions between Light Blues and Dark Blues. A vast majority of those competitions were played on the upper and lower fields of the ski hill, including the “claiming” of the big rock by one of the teams who then painted a huge “L” or “D” on the front.

In 2015, I had the pleasure of attending a graduation at the School, and it was held in a huge tent set up on the lower fields of the ski hill. The ski hill, still part of school life after all these years and the perfect spot for such a special occasion.

The ski hill is called Hood’s Hill now. But whether you remember it as “the ski hill” or “Hood’s Hill,” I hope you’ll remember it as an important, central and fun part of your life at WMS/SMS.

*From page 42 of Linda Clark McGoldrick’s book, “Our First Hundred Years.”

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Alumnae/i Spanning Decades and Around the World Join for Virtual Weekend

St. Mary’s and White Mountain alumnae/i representing the Class of 1954 through to the Class of 2020—a span of 60 years—joined in the first Virtual Alumnae/i Weekend on October 23 and 24. Logging in from California to Washington to Florida to China, the Czech Republic, and many places in between, they engaged in panel discussions, trivia contests, award ceremonies, and shared memories of their time at the School. 

This was our first virtual event specifically for alumnae/i and held in conjunction with White Mountain’s Fall Family Weekend. We missed seeing you on campus, but because it was a huge virtual success, we have decided to hold all future alumnae/i events virtually! In addition to an opportunity to attend some classes online along with White Mountain parents, we were very pleased to host Mirna Valerio as the keynote speaker on Friday evening. Mirna is a well-known ultrarunner and activist in outdoor sports. The topic of her address was “Awe and Wonder in the Outdoors,” and how these experiences connect us as human beings. We were all very inspired by her story.

Saturday’s events included two timely panels, “What Does Civic Engagement Look Like?” moderated by Head of School John Drew, and “Equity in the Outdoors,” moderated by Matthew Toms, director of the Student Assistance Program. Our panelists were all St. Mary’s and White Mountain School alumnae/i from classes in the 1960s through our youngest panelist representing the class of 2018, and a current student.

Saturday’s events included a game of trivia with questions about the School’s history, campus and culture, and academics. The day concluded with John giving an update on White Mountain. The memorial service and prayer recognized alumnae/i who passed away in 2019 and 2020. The evening’s final highlight was the presentation of the Sylvia A. Dickey Prize to Bret Arsenault ’80 for his “demonstrated significant and consistent support to the School.” The Linda Clark McGoldrick ’55 Prize was awarded to Esthefania Rodriguez ’10 for “going above and beyond and best representing the attributes of the ‘ultimate volunteer.’” Please join us congratulating the most recent recipients of these prizes. They will each receive a custom-designed cutting board featuring a map of the campus trails, created on White Mountain’s laser printer.

The attendees ended the evening breaking into “chat” rooms, and all agreed we could have stayed all night sharing stories and memories! Although we would have preferred having everyone with us on campus, the evening was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect for those who were able to join us virtually. 

Videos from the weekend are available on the Alumnae/i website along with links to historic photos, archives, and the School store. We look forward to holding future alumnae/i events virtually! If you have suggestions for future programs or events, please share them with us. We’re in touch, so please keep in touch with us. 

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Flourishing at College: Alumnae/i Share the Impact of a White Mountain Education

The White Mountain School’s unique profile and strong academic reputation have yielded consistent results in college admissions. The School has a track record for positive outcomes and matching students with schools that will best help them meet their academic, career, and personal goals. This year is no exception under the experienced guidance of Erik Bertelsen, the interim director of college counseling, who has been assisted throughout the year by Barbara Buckley, who will succeed Erik in the position beginning in fall 2020.

White Mountain students are considered attractive candidates for admission to a range of colleges and universities that recognize the high standards of the School’s programs. Colleges are interested in students who are engaged and successful both in and outside of the classroom. White Mountain’s breadth of experiential, co-curricular, service-learning, and athletic offerings help develop well-rounded, prepared candidates for higher education, even under the latest form of emergency remote teaching and learning. Additionally, the self-awareness and self-advocacy skills developed throughout a student’s time at White Mountain help them flourish in college and beyond.

Several White Mountain alumnae/i currently attending college recently shared how their time at the School prepared them for their first year in higher education.

Maria Cartagena ’18

Maria Cartagena '19The transition from White Mountain to larger cities and campuses is not always smooth. Maria notes, “Coming from a place like White Mountain certainly helped me adjust in different ways. I was already accustomed to being surrounded by all different types of people, to being away from home, and I also felt pretty comfortable interacting with my professors because of the relationships I had formed with faculty and staff at White Mountain.”

Throughout her time at White Mountain, Maria says that the classes and activities she participated in did influence her choice to study architecture and sustainable development at Barnard College. “There were a number of classes and activities at White Mountain that I give credit to for making me the person that I am today,” explains Maria. “I would say that my favorite Field Courses were the geology trip where we went rock climbing on Mount Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona. At 9,159 feet, it is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains.” She also cites a farm-to-table field course where her group visited two local farms in New Hampshire and Vermont as significant influencers.

Outside of these formative trips, Maria’s interests in architecture and sustainability grew during the time she spent in the Catherine Houghton Arts Center, as she often participated in ceramics and art as classes and hobbies. She was fascinated by the building’s eco-friendly solar panels, geothermal heating, and pellet heating system. The courses and activities in White Mountain’s Sustainability Department helped continue to grow her interest, leading to her choice of major today.

Maria’s advice to students considering White Mountain is, “Take it all in and appreciate all of the opportunities that are presented. Especially as someone who grew up in a low-income neighborhood with little to no access to these outdoor activities, getting over the fear and stepping out to do things so radically out of my comfort zone was just loads of fun.”

Maria also stresses, “Be super kind to your faculty and staff and take the time to get to know them and make meaningful relationships with them and your friends. A lot of the faculty are super interesting people, so take advantage of that!”

Jianghang “Derek” Li ’17

Fin McGrath '18, Derek Li '17, Hayden Alden '18, and Maren Scott '17.

Fin McGrath ’18, Derek Li ’17, Hayden Alden ’18, and Maren Scott ’17.

Derek is studying aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech and, when interviewed for this article, was studying in an exchange program in Hamburg, Germany, but returned to the United States amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Derek recalls that as a first-year college student, there were lots of challenges and concerns. Attending an undergraduate university with a population of over 25,000 was initially terrifying after graduating from a high school with less than 150 students. However, he says that the preparation he received in the form of academics, athletics, and social life at White Mountain quickly helped him succeed, and his full embrace of the School’s mission of “Curiosity. Courage. Compassion” has continued to serve him well, as it did as a White Mountain student.

“Being brave and courageous grants me opportunities to talk to my classmates and professors without any obstacles,” explains Derek. “I was always asking myself what brings me to college, and that is the result of being curious. After all, one should be compassionate towards the people around us. Those three keywords are the real reasons that have driven me this far on my journey.”

After three years at Virginia Tech, Derek says he realized that going to college is a collaborative way to identify problems, develop an efficient method to approach them, and always seek the truth. “Because White Mountain is a small community, students and faculty are tied to each other; it is the best way for a student to figure out what they want to achieve in the future at the best stage.”

When he was a student, Derek was especially shaped by courses in computer game design, physics, and Murder in Literature. He recalls the Field Courses he participated in as being “magnificent,” especially Land of Fire and Ice: The Geography and Geology of Iceland, and Backcountry Skiing in Idaho, respectively. “I made lifetime friends and learned valuable lessons during these times.”

Derek says that he chose White Mountain because he was tired of the city and wanted to be in a smaller, more intimate environment that could him concentrate on what he needed and wanted to do—which he says the School did. Citing his four years at White Mountain as the “best of his life,” Derek remains close friends with many classmates. “The days I had at White Mountain were not always smooth because it is impossible to have an entirely successful life, but the experience was priceless,” he says. “If you are ever confused and lost, pause for a second and think about what you want to achieve. You can only proceed with a clear goal.”

Victoria “Tori” Breen ’17

Tori Breen '18Tori grew up at White Mountain and spent 17 years living on campus before graduating and enrolling at the University of Minnesota—however, she says White Mountain will always be home to her. Currently majoring in dance and minoring in sustainability studies, Tori says her experiences at White Mountain—starting clubs, being in leadership positions, and seeking out opportunities beyond typical classwork—were all beneficial and helped her find fulfilling educational experiences and communities in the initial transition to a large university. “White Mountain’s focus on self-driven learning and the potential for independent work in most courses was good preparation for projects and papers in college,” explains Tori. “Even outside of the classroom, the opportunity for creating your own experience at White Mountain has been hugely helpful for me.”

Tori shares the following advice for students who are considering White Mountain, “White Mountain allowed me to investigate the process of learning and think deeply about things that actually matter to me and to think about the state of the world, not just memorize information. I am so grateful for this kind of learning.”

Pyper Williams ’18

Pyper Williams '18Pyper says she misses White Mountain every day, and that “gratitude” comes to mind when thinking of the School. “The education I received at White Mountain was extraordinary. One of the greatest things about my experience was obtaining a deep value for the natural world and the power of the authentic,” she explains.

Currently studying at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, she quickly discovered that acting is fundamentally based in truth and authenticity and has discovered many crucial parallels between nature and acting. Because White Mountain’s curriculum is rooted in student-driven inquiry, Pyper says she became someone who always wanted to know more. “At acting school, they tell us that an actor’s work is never done; there is always more to discover about your character, and you can always go deeper. I found that being curious is imperative in my acting work, and the deeper my work, the more compelling and believable my performance will be.”

In the Black Box Theater at White Mountain, Pyper says she gained a solid foundation and knowledge of the art form that informs her work today. She knew she wanted to be an actor before high school, so White Mountain’s arts offerings were a huge draw. She also recalls how rock climbing led to her strong friendships and relationships with other students and teachers. Pyper says she especially loved the days in the spring and fall when students ventured into the woods, spending time in nature. She recently finished writing a one-woman show about a Field Course spent rafting down the whitewaters of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon—another memorable experience and one of her favorite memories at White Mountain that took place outside.

Pyper encourages both current and prospective students considering White Mountain to appreciate each day. “The School has so many invaluable opportunities at your disposal, she says. “So, when a door opens, be courageous, and walk through it. You never know where it might lead—trust me; I live in Hollywood now!” It wasn’t until after Pyper left White Mountain that she realized how unique and special the experience was. She realized that no one had a high school experience like she had. “Appreciate the School’s uniqueness. I urge you to get outdoors as much as you can, whether it be for a sport, Field Courses, or weekend activities,” urges Pyper. “The things I learned and the memories I made there are unlike any other, and have made me the person I am today. I cannot thank my teachers, staff members, and the community of this little school in the woods enough. I love White Mountain and feel very lucky to be an alumna. Reminiscing on my time at White Mountain has brightened my day!”

Fatimata Cham ’19

Fatimata Cham '19For Fatimata, who is finishing her first year at Lafayette College, the education and experiences at White Mountain helped her better understand the School’s community and different perspectives and cultures. Today, “friendship” is the word she most associates with the School.

At Lafayette, Fatimata says she is surrounded by people from all different backgrounds, and events such as the School’s International Night have allowed her to engage with these diverse peers successfully. She also says that serving on the School’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and creating her own club at White Mountain helped her develop the leadership skills she regularly uses in college. White Mountain’s small community allowed her to form close relationships with the faculty and staff. In college, this has helped her build meaningful relationships with her professors. Experiences such as LASR projects and foreign language classes have helped her gain a deeper appreciation for inquiry-driven engagement in college.

When she was at White Mountain, Fatimata says courses focused on Black and Latinx American literature were her favorite. Additionally, she says history courses gave her more in-depth insight into the political system of the U.S. and its effects on marginalized peoples domestically and internationally. In particular, Fatimata recalls how impactful a world history course on the Democratic Republic of the Congo was for her, helping her understand the role that the world plays in the Congo’s continued disenfranchisement. She often referenced this course in an international and comparative politics course she took at Lafayette. “Had it not been for this history class, I would not be as knowledgeable as I am today. I am grateful for the skills gained in each of these pursuits,” she explains. In addition to French and LASR projects, Fatimata says she also enjoyed religion and philosophy courses. Her favorite activities included the Diversity Club and the International Student Mentor Program, among others. Determined to make the world a better place, Fatimata is currently planning on a double major in government and law and international affairs with a minor in religion and philosophy.

She instructs students considering White Mountain to allow themselves the opportunity to grow. “I think as teenagers, we are constantly growing mentally and physically, and high school is a vital time in your life to grow,” explains Fatimata. “Allow yourself to try new things, explore new horizons. The sky is not the limit, but only the beginning.”

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for 135 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Donors Jody and Guillermo Trinchet P’22: “Supporting the Annual Fund Creates a Future for Us All”

Jody and Guillermo Trinchet P'22Jody and Guillermo Trinchet P’22 are the parents of Ryan Trinchet ’22. The family lives in the Boston area, where Guillermo works in finance and volunteers as an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scouts of America. Jody, a former accountant, serves on the board of The Accord School in Norwell, Massachusetts, where Ryan was formerly a student. She is a board member of South Shore SNAP (Special Needs Athletic Partnership), and an active volunteer supporting their daughter’s gymnastics training and competition.

“We like the history of The White Mountain School—its traditions and mission of inquiry and engagement. The School’s small community and the one-on-one relationships the students have with their advisors and others, make it the perfect school for Ryan,” says Jody. These reasons compel the Trinchets, like other White Mountain families and members of our community, to support the Annual Fund.

The Trinchets discovered their love of White Mountain and the mountains it is named after while visiting Franconia Notch and Range, where Guillermo likes to hike and climb. The School’s dedication to student-driven inquiry and experiential learning, both in the classroom and the outdoors, as well as the School’s kind and inclusive culture, resonated with them. These are a few of the many reasons they support White Mountain—so that other students will have the same opportunities as their son.

At White Mountain, we are very fortunate to have parents like the Trinchets who believe in the three pillars of our mission: curiosity, courage, and compassion. Their support directly impacts and ensures the excellent education students receive. Their generosity supports our faculty, capital projects, and enhances the experience for all students. Jody sums it up best, saying, “It is important to us to support organizations that have made an impact on our lives and the lives of our children.”

If you are able, please consider joining the Trinchets with a gift of support to this year’s Annual Fund. Every gift, at every level, makes an impact and allows The White Mountain School to continue our success.

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for 135 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Alumnae/i Profile: Susan Stout ’68

Susan Stout '68

Susan Stout ’68

Susan Stout graduated from St. Mary’s in-the-Mountains in 1968. Since her days as a student, she has embraced and epitomized the School’s mission: “We are a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in our Episcopal heritage, we prepare and inspire students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.” The same tenets have guided her education, career, and life. It was at St. Mary’s that she discovered her curiosity and passion for studying and learning. To those who knew her as a student leader at St. Mary’s, it was clear she would have a bright future. Susan has had an amazing journey, and although she insists it was all serendipity, it is clear that her character and dedication to improving the lives of others are what brought her so far.

Like other students of that era, it was skiing that brought Susan to St. Mary’s in 1965, but it was in the classroom where she was inspired by her history teacher, Lynn Sanborn, who taught a “life-changing” course in Chinese history. She stayed at St. Mary’s for three years emboldened by the education she received, particularly noting communication skills and writing taught by Deborah McIlwaine, the wife of Head of School John McIwaine. Even during the turbulent and fast-changing times in the 1960s and 70s, Susan discovered she liked to study and spend her time in the library.

Desiring to stay close to the mountains, Susan chose to go to the University of Colorado and started in the political science department. It was there that a professor recognized her intellect and quest for knowledge and encouraged her to go to a college with a strong Asian studies program. Susan transferred to Vassar College, where many of the women in her family had studied. After college, Susan and her roommate worked in India, traveling to the hill station towns in the south. They helped in clinics that were just beginning to serve family planning in the area. They traveled further in Asia including Nepal, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Susan wanted to stay and attend graduate school in Hong Kong. Instead, she moved back to the United States for graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a fellowship to study public health. A two-year master’s in public health led to a further two years, earning a doctorate of public health in health administration, with an emphasis on population policy. A degree requirement was field service, and though she had wanted to do it in international family planning, Susan’s advisor instead recommended she work for North Carolina’s family planning bureau. While there, she gained firsthand experience in tracking results, budget planning, and evaluating the success of a program, which became a backbone for her future work on international health. This experience made her an attractive candidate to teach employees at the World Bank Group since the bank was becoming interested in population issues. Susan found it might be a good place to work permanently. She started as an intern and then after three years worked on population and family planning in several African countries. She subsequently was able to parlay a consultancy at the bank into a full-time position through persistence and proof of the knowledge and experience she could provide from her work in North Carolina. Her position at the World Bank in international family planning with a focus on population, health, and nutrition programs and policy led to assignments in India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Vietnam.

Highlights of her time at the World Bank include being in Afghanistan after the Taliban was defeated and working on health and HIV/AIDS policies in Vietnam. She noted that the Vietnamese government was the smartest government she worked with in terms of family planning and population. One of the more frightening times was in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, where she served as an advisor to the Ministry of Health and escaped during on-going uprisings, bombings, and civil war.

Susan’s interest in statistics and results were keys to her expertise in population and other studies. Over 25 years at the World Bank, she worked to improve the effectiveness of maternal and child health programs in more than twenty countries. Susan worked for the World Bank’s independent evaluation group in the mid-1990s. Donors and lenders to the bank wanted to see efficacious investments, but too few of the bank’s health projects were adequately monitoring results. Following this work, she returned to the bank’s operational work, and to help improve the bank’s health investment portfolio. Subsequently, she helped to coordinate the monitoring and evaluation of the Bank’s HIV/AIDS programs in at least ten countries in Africa. She was then recruited to lead an organization-wide effort to improve the measurement and use of information on results in decision making.

After retiring in 2008 from the World Bank, Susan took on several consultancies and taught at Georgetown University’s Department of International Health. Her teaching experience reminded her of the importance of good writing skills. She met too many students who needed to strengthen their skills in this craft. She is grateful she learned how to write, first at St. Mary’s and later at Vassar.

As a role model for other alumnae/i and current students, the School is grateful to Susan for sharing her story. When asked to do so, she responded, “I am especially pleased to do this, since I strongly believe that the success I have enjoyed—both professionally and in friendships—ties directly back to St. Mag’s!” Although she is modest and self-effacing about her accomplishments, it is clear that it was her curiosity, courage, and compassion, in addition to perseverance, that led to her success. Susan writes, “Thanks, St. Mary’s, for wonderful mentors and a sound basic education.”

In regards to White Mountain’s current curriculum, Susan says she admires White Mountain’s approach to student-driven inquiry and notes that “you can’t teach the right answers” and “students must learn from mistakes.” She advises students to study something, adapt, change, and adapt again.

“I was fascinated and excited to learn about the School’s approach to learning—and its emphasis on building skills for continuous learning and adaptation through learning to communicate, try things out, learning from mistakes, reevaluating, and adapting to changing circumstances,” says Susan. “I’ve spent many years trying to help agencies and countries learn about how to make development assistance (foreign aid) more effective. The key lesson after all these years is that it is better to build capabilities to learn and adapt, rather than to try to get organizations to stick to a predetermined plan. We are in a constant struggle to encourage project designers and implementers to embrace ‘learning by doing’ — rather than teaching cookbook solutions. So I think the approach the school is taking is ‘spot on’ — and will serve your students well in our rapidly changing world.”

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for 135 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

White Mountain Alumnae/i Are Making Their Mark in 21st Century Careers

Long-term career choices may not always be at the front of students’ minds. However, the academic and co-curricular offerings available through a White Mountain education will help make students appealing candidates in the future, not only to colleges but to potential employers, businesses, and organizations.

Many future careers, such as organizational disrupter, custom body part manufacturer, brain implant specialist, and personal microbiome manager, among others, don’t even exist today. At White Mountain, teaching focuses on skills and problem-solving, not facts and figures. The School’s approach to pedagogy recognizes that faculty cannot just teach the right answers. Instead, it emphasizes research and critical thinking skills, in addition to quantitative reasoning and, above all, communication and collaboration. Students are encouraged to be curious and persistent but also reflective. White Mountain has always had a unique and exciting forward-thinking approach to learning with an emphasis on building skills for continuous learning and adaptation—experimenting, learning from mistakes, reevaluating, and adapting to changing circumstances. Additionally, the School’s culture of inquiry and small class sizes help students develop the skills and habits to become creative problem-solvers. The skills and habits taught as part of a White Mountain education are ones that correlate with success and that students will need to thrive, not only as dynamic learners but as future leaders.

The School asked a group of alumnae/i in from class years between 2010-2015 how their White Mountain education and experiences positioned them when they started their careers—and they still utilize the same skills they learned at White Mountain ten years ago. They related that it was at White Mountain where they learned to explore their interests and develop their passions. When asked to participate, Will Mazimba ’11 answered, “I am always happy to help with new and current students, and White Mountain’s mission to help them grow, as the School did for me.”

Mikaela Houghton ’11

Mikaela Houghton ’11 says, “In addition to a variety of different academic, cultural, and social interests, the students at White Mountain were a melting pot, and the diversity of the student population helped in opening my eyes to see what the world was like outside of my home community.”

Mikaela and others also say they appreciated the School’s focus on volunteerism. “My favorite activities were those that revolved around serving others, which has always been a personal value of mine.” Her volunteer experiences when she was a student at White Mountain were driving factors in her choice of a career, and her volunteerism continues today. “Throughout the spring semester of my senior year, I had the unique opportunity to work with a staff member to create a community service plan. For several weeks I worked with a local daycare to assist educators in providing a curriculum that would enhance students’ learning and preparation for kindergarten.”

“My love for serving others, and passion for education, was developed not only by my unique educational experience but also by the White Mountain community with its combination of inclusivity and diverse values. White Mountain was home to students who challenged me to think critically about what it meant to be a global citizen, and the academics challenged me to achieve excellence,” says Mikaela, recalling the energy, passion, and dedication of her peers and the adults in the community as integral to her experience, too. “The community at White Mountain is unlike any other.”

Mikaela previously worked in development at the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network. She is currently the manager of affiliate growth and development at Raising a Reader, a national literacy nonprofit. She oversees the growth strategy for 300 national affiliates. She has received prestigious recognition for her work, including being named to the Young Nonprofit Professionals of Atlanta’s “30 Under 30” list in 2018. Mikaela was also selected to serve as an international consultant to the United States Embassy in London, focusing on the United Kingdom’s Renewable Energy Strategy—specifically, addressing offshore wind energy in learning how international collaboration can solve real-world problems. She is also a graduate student at Northeastern University, completing a master’s in nonprofit management.

Misha Ignatenko ’11

Misha Ignatenko ’11 grew up in southern Ukraine and attended White Mountain from 2009 to 2011. “Being at White Mountain was mind-opening on all fronts: being in the U.S. for the first time, making connections with new classmates, and appreciating the School’s emphasis on sustainability and the outdoors.” Inspired by his family and later by White Mountain, he believes, “If you’re not making the best use of your limited time on Earth, then you’re just not making the best of your life. Why not make the best of the limited opportunities, limited time, and limited resources that you get? Why not see what you can do to challenge yourself?”

At White Mountain, Misha took every opportunity to try new things. Being at White Mountain made him more open-minded and unafraid to explore new ideas and activities in and outside the classroom. Taking Advanced Placement courses in calculus, physics, and chemistry led to majoring in math and computer science in college and was the foundation for his current work as a software engineer. He hopes to start his own business one day and says he is always doing research and reading up on new ideas, and the current market, a practice he learned at White Mountain.

Misha previously worked at BlackRock, a financial planning and investment management firm, as a software engineer for three years, before joining Qualia, a real estate software developer also based in San Francisco, as a software engineer.

Lydia Chen ’11

Lydia Chen ’11 shares, “White Mountain encouraged me to be continuously curious and to solve problems. In class, Morning Meetings, projects, and Field Courses, students are always praised for thinking outside of the box and asking questions.” Lydia came to White Mountain from China, and though she was far from home, the mountain landscape reminded her of where she grew up.

She loved everything about White Mountain. She mentions the variety of sports, art classes, including ceramics and photography, music classes, and wilderness first responder classes, in addition to the Field Courses and clubs, such as Astronomy Club. “Even though nothing led directly to my career, everything inspired me to pursue more creativity.” At White Mountain, she says she also learned to be confident about herself and who she is. “It’s such an important and impactful life lesson to me.”

Like other alumnae/i, Lydia says “community” is the first word that comes to mind when describing White Mountain, “White Mountain staff and their families are welcoming, accepting, and compassionate individuals.” However, she also mentions “adventure” as an essential component of the School. “I had more adventures in the two and a half years at White Mountain than the rest of my life. I think it is adventure that is the common interest that connects everyone in the community.” Adventure continues to be part of her life post-White Mountain. She loves to travel and has been planning trips to a few countries every year, traveling solo.

Lydia is currently working as a tech analyst in classifications at DoubleVerify, an advertising tech company in New York. The company focuses on advertising fraud and inappropriate content, in addition to authenticating the quality of digital media for the world’s largest brands, ensuring viewable, fraud-free, brand-safe ads. Lydia works on the classification team helping the staff and reviewers improve classifications using algorithms across all the company’s sites, including pages, mobile/tv apps, and YouTube videos. She is also a freelance data analyst. She consults on machine learning, database architecture-related projects, and tutors students in Python, SQL, and machine learning algorithms.

Will Mazimba ’11

“White Mountain taught me so many things that have helped me in my personal life, and my career,” says Will Mazimba ’11. “One of the most important ones was how to navigate the world on my own terms, and not be afraid to jump in and take chances when they’re offered. From going on Field Courses, to group discussions in class, to one-on-one’s with my advisor, I learned how to talk to people, and how to make connections. That, in and of itself, is a huge skill to have when navigating the working world. One conversation could change the trajectory of your career, and that’s not a bad thing at all.”

In addition to favorites classes, Will mentions the variety of sports offered at White Mountain. “Sports was maybe one of the most influential parts of my education, because it drives home the point that you are always going to be part of a team, and need to understand how to work as such.” Whether you’re on a big or small team in your career, or you choose entrepreneurship to build a business, you will have to rely on others to help you get to where you need to go.”

To students who are considering White Mountain as a school to attend, Will advises, “Never be afraid to jump into something new, it could be the best decision you’ve ever made, and a fantastic learning opportunity. White Mountain creates an atmosphere that feels like home, and gives you the ability to explore who you are, and what you love, then supports that creativity with the necessary resources to help you find your passions. The amazing thing is that even if you don’t think you have a passion, White Mountain will give you something to be passionate about.”

White Mountain was “freeing,” according to Will. “[The School] provided the structure, freedom, critical thinking skills, recreation, friendship, and home that allowed me to get where I am today, along with all the relationships I’ve built and maintained along the way.” Will started his career working at WorldApp, a small, Boston tech company that has a focus on improving workflow operations via automating forms and surveys. After a year there, he became an engagement specialist at a financial tech company called Eze Software. He is currently a product manager at LogMeIn on the care support platform, supporting all the company’s customers on all their products.

In addition to the young alumnae/i profiled here, many others are pursuing a wide range of careers and graduate education in traditional and emerging fields. White Mountain provides skills that can be applied to all career choices and opportunities. An essential goal of the School is to help students and alumnae/i find something they love that will give them intellectual, spiritual, and personal fulfillment. At the heart of each White Mountain classroom is the belief that each student can succeed. Faculty and staff realize that the success of every student should not always be evaluated based on predetermined, external measures, and not only recognize different forms of success and interest but actively inspire their discovery. Faculty emphasize the basics, such as time-management and study skills, but also foster and encourage congeniality and adaptability, along with social responsibility, all areas that are essential to successful lives and careers.

The School aims to help students to explore the boundaries of subject areas offered at White Mountain, to seek connections to those pursuits which excite them actively, and to place their ideas within the context of their lives. The traditions of curiosity, courage, and compassion—both intellectually and spirituality—all resonate here.

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for 135 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.

Parent Profile: Ginny Hunneke P’18

Ginny Hunnke P’18 and Morgan Hunneke ’18

Ginny Hunneke P’18 and Morgan Hunneke ’18

Ginny is the mother of Morgan Hunneke ’18, who began his education at The White Mountain School in 2016. Ginny admits not wanting him to attend a school so far from their home in Asheville, North Carolina, but it was the perfect school for Morgan. Fortunately, a bonus was a good plane connection from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Manchester, New Hampshire. Morgan and a few former White Mountain students are now at Quest University Canada in Squamish, British Columbia. This innovative school, founded in 2007, shares many similarities with White Mountain at the collegiate level. There are students from 45 countries and a range of socio-economic backgrounds, thinking, questioning, and engaging with their world. Morgan is having another great experience and stayed in British Columbia to work over the summer of 2019. Ginny is happy to let him follow his dreams and passion for the outdoors, even though it means he is living them 2,500 miles away! The latest update is Morgan will be spending the summer of 2020 working on a coffee plantation in Hawaii.

Ginny is the founder of The Fun Conspiracy, a life coaching and wellness organization, whose mission is to derail the idea that “fun” is a reward for work. The Fun Conspiracy also helps participants overcome the shame and anxiety often experienced in the early stages of recovery, teaching participants how to relax and have fun appropriately without the use of social stimulants, including liquor, pills, and drugs. Ginny works one-on-one as a life coach and also conducts workshops. In 2019 she traveled to London to conduct workshops to teach other coaches. She also works with corporations on team building. She believes the common denominator across all endeavors is to connect authentically. Ginny has also served on the vestry at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Asheville. Additionally, she served on the board of directors for the Partnership for a Drug-Free NC (now Insight Human Services) and as a trustee and a former board chair at Odyssey: A Community of Integral Learning.

Ginny tells us, “I give to White Mountain based on my belief in the School’s profound impact on so many students and, specifically, in gratitude to White Mountain for Morgan’s experience.” Morgan worked summers with the Youth Conservation Corps of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina since he was 15, and served on a chainsaw crew with AmeriCorps. It was this experience that taught him to work with people from different backgrounds. What resonated with Ginny and Morgan at White Mountain was “the empathy and caring that the faculty, staff, and students had for one another.” Ginny believes in giving to organizations because there are more than enough resources to share. She knows that “When we give, everybody benefits.” Morgan is very fortunate to have Ginny as a role model! White Mountain is fortunate to have Ginny inspire other parents to give back to the School and students through her support of the Annual Fund.

Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for 135 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.