My ultimate goal in education is to get students involved in important global conversations and to give them the tools to participate productively in those conversations.
As a White Mountain history teacher, dorm parent and climbing coach, Hiapo Emmons-Shaw does it all! He talks a bit more about his 18 years here at White Mountain and what he loves most about the School below.
You seem to do everything: teach, coach and dorm parent. Could you speak a bit more about your roles here at White Mountain?
Sure! I teach World History II which focuses on modern world history and AP Human Geography which focuses on peoples’ interactions with the landscape. AP Human Geography is an upperclassmen course, whereas World History II is usually taken by sophomores. I think I’ll also be teaching an Eastern Religions elective in the fall next year.
My classes are designed to spark discussion. Real learning begins with a conversation, and in my view the most genuine learning is discursive and involves back and forth discourse. Most assignments and projects are designed to allow the students some latitude in their choice of topics and to assess both the products of student work and the process by which they arrived at that product. Some example assignments include team debates, book reviews, guided and open research projects, readings and note-taking, and Socratic seminars. All the work is meant to generate interest, improve skills and to launch new conversations.
Check out what Hiapo’s AP Human Geography class studied in a recent project block.
Field Courses are some of my favorite times here and I’ve led many different ones. I led the Physics of Climbing course this past spring, and will lead the Geography and Geology of Iceland this coming fall.
I’m currently a Hill House dorm parent, but I have spent at least one year as a dorm parent for each of the dorms, and was Dorm Head in Hill House for a year, too. I’m an avid climber and love coaching anything related to climbing – rock climbing in the spring and fall and ice climbing some winters.
Favorite thing about WMS
It’s hard to pick a favorite thing. I like the kind of education we do here. It’s personal and individual and allows me to adapt to my students needs. It’s also integrated and allows me to work with the same students in different contexts – like sports, class, Field Course and in the dorm. I also like the community and culture. It’s kind, inclusive and focused on its purpose – a sort of educational oasis in a fractious world.
Favorite place on campus and Fun Fact
I love the newly renovated Lovejoy Chapel – it’s beautiful and airy. It has so many windows you almost feel like you are outside when you’re in there.
My sister-in-law graduated from WMS the year Becky and I started here. She loved it so much we applied from our Peace Corps post in South America. That’s how my WMS story started.