Tag Archives: Faculty

Field Course Highlight: Giving Back Through Service & Community Development


Twice a year, The White Mountain School offers its students a variety of opportunities to gain mastery of topics that are best learned out of a classroom setting during week-long Field Courses. Each of these immersive experiences allows an in-depth, academic exploration of a specific topic and occurs within a geographic setting ideal for authentic study. These memorable excursions provide an incomparable means for students to explore and develop their passions beyond the walls of the traditional classroom.

imgp4085One of the eleven Field Course offerings this March – Exploring the Culture and Social Justice in the Developing Caribbean Nation of the Dominican Republic –  brought White Mountain students to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where they completed community development projects in the community of La Sabana Perdida. Lead by White Mountain Faculty member Matthew Toms, the students explored poverty, social development and social justice in the Dominican Republic through direct service learning work and preparatory & reflective class sessions and discussions. The service learning component included working on a construction project and providing support to a local elementary school.imgp4229

In addition to the aforementioned trip to the Dominican Republic, White Mountain students also participated in the following Field Courses – Green Living in the Urban World: Sustainability and Service in Montreal; Leadership in the Natural World: Practical Applications of Leadership and Communication; Intersectional Feminism: An Examination of Gender, Power, and Race; Maine Coast Independent Student Project; The Physics of Climbing; Winter Photography in The White Mountains; Buddhism and Mindfulness: The Study and Practice; Economics: A Case Study Through the Ski Industry; Ekphrastic: Exercises in Art and Writing; and Avalanche Science and Education: Exploring the Mountains of Idaho.

imgp3999The White Mountain School has dedicated its academic curriculum to stimulate student inquiry and engagement.  Oftentimes, students further pursue passions inspired by Field Course in other areas like their LASR project. Learn more about our Field Courses and LASR on our website.

You can see some photos taken during this exciting Field Course opportunity below.

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Faculty Spotlight: Three Questions with Rachel Van Wylen

What inspires this accomplished artist in her classroom, the intersection of visual arts and Essential Skills & Habits, plus – where you can see Van Wylen’s own artwork!

rachel-good-smileTelemark: How does the Catherine Houghton Arts Center inspire you as both an artist and as a teacher at The White Mountain School?

Van Wylen: The Catherine Houghton Arts Center is a great place for students to work since the natural light, views of the mountains, and high ceilings create an atmosphere of possibility.  It’s also a space that changes with the seasons since the floor-to-ceiling windows let in different colors throughout the year.  In that way, it mirrors the creative process, in which things are constantly evolving.

dsc_1181Telemark: What should parents know about how arts education at The White Mountain School intersects with Essential Skills and Habits?

Van Wylen: The Art Department absolutely supports students in their development of Essential Skills and Habits.  One of the habits we emphasize most is persistence.  Students may arrive with the idea that some people are artists while others are not, but the ethos of our program is that anyone can improve and grow when given opportunities to persist.


We also emphasize curiosity.  Students get to choose which artists to research, so they are pursuing topics about which they are genuinely curious.  Similarly, projects are structured to give students room for interpretation and personal expression, so that they can pursue subjects and questions that have piqued their curiosity.

dsc_0084Telemark: Where can people go to see some of your artwork?

Van Wylen: I have some work up at the Mystic Museum of Art right now, since I am a part of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts 108th Annual Exhibition. I was also recently featured in Chaleur Magazine with a series of drawings I made while traveling in Lisbon.

For images of Van Wylen’s work in progress, you can check out her Instagram account, or visit her website.