Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We are not the makers of history. We are made by history.”

At Gould, students become critical thinkers who use history as a tool to better understand their own cultural identity and the interconnectedness of civilizations around the world and across centuries. In the upper grades, Gould’s history curriculum challenges students to broaden their historical and cultural appreciation through electives and AP courses. Throughout the curriculum, students learn research methods that empower them to think critically and make solid arguments.

History and English Summer Reading

Download the Summer Reading Assignment

Departmental Requirements:

Three years, to include U.S. History (generally taken during a student’s eleventh-grade year).

Embedded Honors:
All courses that are not AP History have the Embedded Honors option.  Students who are interested in further challenging themselves can earn honors credit by completing a significantly more demanding version of an assignment each term.

History Courses Include:

Human Geography

Geography dramatically shapes our cultural identity as human beings. Human Geography will focus on learning to understand world cultures from many different perspectives. Strong emphasis will also be given to questions of place. What does it mean to be in a certain location? How does that location impact identity? How do people find ways to comprehend place? In conjunction with the English department, we will consider these questions both from a geographic and a literary perspective. (Ninth grade requirement)

The West and the World – World History

This course will study the major civilizations which have developed around the world over the last several thousand years, with a focus on the way in which Western Civilization has emerged and developed in the context of cultures and civilizations around the globe. (Tenth grade requirement)

United States History

United States History offers an opportunity to study the life of the Republic, from its colonial beginnings to the present. During this exploration, we will not only focus on the who, what and wheres of United States History, but most importantly, the whys, looking at factors that contributed to the outcomes of pivotal events in the country’s history. We will also work at improving and mastering the skill of writing research papers. Students will complete three research papers over the course of the year, with the last culminating in a 15 minute presentation over the topic selected. This course is required of all 11th grade (and older) students who have yet to satisfy departmental credit requirements. It is also a prerequisite for department electives.

AP United States History

This year-long course will introduce students to college-level study of American history as well as prepare them for the AP United States history exam in May. Primary source readings, individual research, group discussion, and debate are combined in each unit to develop the ability to think, speak, and write critically about United States history. Major course themes include the development of American identities, American exceptionalism, law and social change, war and diplomacy, the evolving meaning of the Constitution, environmental change, art and literature as expressive of the American experience, and the rise of the United States as a global power. Course themes act as touchstones for discussion, writing, and analysis in each unit of study. Students will be expected to take the United States History AP exam in May. Students will be expected to take the AP U.S. History exam in May. (Students may enroll in the course only with departmental approval.)

AP Government and Politics: Comparative

This course is designed to introduce students to comparative politics through studying the diversity of governments in a global context. The comparative method is used to analyze the governments of the Britain, France, Russia, China, Nigeria, Iran and the United States, among others. Current global political events are utilized to keep the course relevant to world affairs. As our world grows smaller with technological advances and increased economic ties between nations, it becomes increasingly important that we understand politics in such a comparative and global context. Students enrolled in this course will be expected to take the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam. Students will be expected to take the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam. (Students may enroll in the course only with departmental approval.)

Critical Readings on the American Myth

Historian C. Vann Woodward wrote: “Every self-conscious group of any size fabricates myths about the past: about its origins, its mission, its righteousness, its benevolence, its general superiority.” Americans are no exception. Myths inform the image that Americans have of themselves and their country. In this course we will interrogate the meaning of the major myths that sustain and inform American culture and civilization, both past and present. By better understanding the place of myth in culture, we will arrive at a more complete understanding of American social structure and the place of various cultural groups within it. Readings for the course will include Rereading America by Colombo et al., Myths America Lives by from Richard Hughes, and Mythologies by Roland Barthes.

Critical Readings on Genocide

This course will cover some of the theoretical explanations for the causes of genocide, discuss the philosophical implications of genocide in relation to human nature and world politics, and review historical events. The course will conclude with students creating case studies on other instances of genocide in the 20th century.

Social Entrepreneurship

How do I know? Why do I know? What does it matter? What can I do with it? What entrepreneurial ventures have shaped history? How might I develop an entrepreneurial idea into a business?

While learning from history, case studies and innovative visionaries, students explore business development strategies using the design thinking approach, develop business plans, learn to network, practice pitch sessions, and bring an idea to a business model. Throughout the course, students get hands-on experience by learning to run SA-KRED, the student run cafe. (Cross listed with the IDEAS Center. Earns History departmental credit.)

Western Philosophy

Who are we? What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of reality? How do we live?

These questions have confronted human beings for centuries. This elective will introduce students to the big questions in philosophy. The course is designed as an introductory survey of Western Philosophy. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Hume, Spinoza, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche will be read and discussed. The main text for the course is Sophie’s World, a novel based around the history of philosophy. Students will come away from the course with an increased appreciation of philosophical questions and discussion. An emphasis on public philosophy through bringing Socratic discussion to the community will be a key part of this course.

Design Activism

This interdisciplinary project based course emphasizes design activism, which stems from design thinking. Through hands-on collaborative making, students explore historical moments of activism and discover a relevant issue to explore and do design activism in the community. Students will explore an issue and learn design thinking skills such as user-centered research, rapid prototyping, iterative implementation as well as learning how to use a variety of tools in the IDEAS Center.

Maine History

Maine is a place of beauty, rich in history and has a culture all its own. In this class, we will examine the history and development of this state, looking at the days of the early native inhabitants to the modern day issues facing the state. When studying the larger issues, we will often look at Northern Oxford County and the Bethel area as case studies of how the state was affected by the many issues that were playing out at the state and national levels. We will also examine the lore and tradition of the local history of Bethel and Gould Academy, using the resources housed at the Bethel Historical Society and the school.

Research Methods: Global Migrations

The movement of people across borders is a central political issue throughout the world. In North and South, East and West, the issue of migration is a controversial one that has at times even become the focus of violence. The movement of people from their homelands into other parts of the world changes the migrants themselves as well as the receiving communities. We will examine diverse cases of migration from around the globe as well as make connections to immigrant communities close by here in Maine with the goal of creating oral histories recounting the migration to and settlement in our region. We will use a range of texts, including journalistic accounts, academic writings, fiction, films, and lastly, the words of migrants themselves in order to study migration from both a structural and a local perspective.

Baseball and American Culture

This course will cover the history of baseball and how it can be connected to other major themes in United States History. The course will cover roughly the last 100 years of the game and making connections with topics such as the origins of the game, how the corruption of the early 20th century affected the game, baseball in the 20’s and 30’s, baseball and World Wars, racism in baseball, and other selected topics.

Dylan and American Culture

The goal of this History Department elective is to introduce students to the words and music of Bob Dylan and the times that he lived. Time Magazine placed Bob Dylan in their list of the top 100 most influential people of the 20th century and called him a “master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation.” In this course, through reading, careful listening to his music, and engaging in discussion and critical reflection on his lyrics, we will raise essential questions about the relationship between artistic creativity and American popular culture.

Presenting Great Decisions

This is a current events course that will focus on eight issues of concern to current US foreign policy, issues that represent foreign policy challenges of tomorrow. The topics of study will include: United States and rising global powers, Afghanistan/Pakistan, energy & the global economy, the Arctic, United States and Egypt, global food supply, Cuba after Castro, and universal human rights. Students will maintain websites devoted to one of the eight areas of study.

Presenting Psychology

This elective is an introduction to evolutionary psychology. Students will read, write, think, and talk about how the miracle of the human mind has evolved and paradoxically how its function today is strongly linked to our evolutionary past. The course will still contain a strong gender unit as gender differences in thought and behavior are strongly linked to biology, though there is certainly a degree of controversy over the extent to which gender roles are linked to biology.

History Department Faculty

Dr. Brad Clarke

Associate Dean of Academics
B.A. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Ph.D. Brandeis University
Cross Country Running Coach
Nordic Team Coach


Dr. Clarke has been teaching at Gould for over 15 years. Prior to Gould he was a visiting instructor at Mount Holyoke College, a teaching assistant at Brandeis University and Harvard University, and a research assistant at Harvard. At Gould, Dr. Clarke’s  many classes include AP Government and AP United States History. He loves trail running, Nordic skiing, playing baseball, his record collection, house painting, the Bethel Outing Club (he is the former president), and coaching youth sports. The rest of the time is spent catching his breath. Dr. Clarke and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Bethel and have four children: Jeb ’12, Aiden ’15, Caleb ’16, and Livy ‘19.

Robert Manning

Dean of Community Life
History Teacher
B.A. St. Lawrence University
M.A. Tufts University
Baseball Head Coach
Ski Patrol Program Co-Director


Mr. Manning has over 30 years of experience in the classroom. A gifted speaker, he is a dramatic presence in the classroom. His energetic discussions are engaging and can often be heard into the halls and nearby classrooms. Aside from being a dedicated and talented teacher, Mr. Manning is dedicated to the seven-day boarding school tradition where students come first, whether it be in the classroom, on the athletic fields, or in the dormitory. When not teaching Mr. Manning can be found on the mountain with the Ski Patrol Program, teaching students the ins and outs of mountain operations and wilderness medicine. In the Spring, he is on the baseball field coaching the Boys’ Varsity Team, meticulously maintaining the diamond between games. Mr. Manning lives on campus in the Hutchinson House with wife, Denise, and dog, Mookie. Their son, Alec ‘14 is attended and played baseball at Kenyon College.

Alec Newell ’88

History Teacher
B.A. Hobart William and Smith
Golf Head Coach
Boys’ Varsity Baseball Coach


Mr. Newell grew up on-campus as the son of Mr. Charlie Newell, the legendary Gould teacher, coach, and dorm head. Now as a faculty member (and 1988 Gould grad), Mr. Newell has a knack for finding the story in any historic moment and making that story come alive for his students. Before Gould, he taught at Telstar High School, the regional high school here in Bethel, where he was named “Teacher of the Year” by their student council in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Mr. Newell served as the Athletic Director and English/History teacher at Kents Hill School for eight years, where he was honored with “Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year” in 2000 by the Central Maine Newspapers. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, sports collectibles, and playing the harmonica. Mr. Newell lives off campus with his wife, Lynn, a local primary school educator, and their two daughters, Caroline and Emma.

Colin Penley

History Teacher
World Languages Teacher
Associate Dean of Students.
Holden Hall Dorm Head

B.A. Middlebury College
Fall Drama Director

Mr. Penley, a Bethel almost-native, loves living in this beautiful corner of the world. A teacher in the History and World Languages departments, who also works in the Dean of Students Office, he is excited to have opportunities to work with students in a wide variety of settings. He loves to travel and tries to use every chance he gets to see new places, experience new cultures, and learn a little more about the world in which we live. He has traveled to China many times, both for personal study of language and teaching pedagogy and as an exploration leader with students. Mr. Penley also runs Holden Hall, one of the two boys’ dormitories on campus. In addition to his work as a teacher, dorm parent, and advisor, he helps direct the fall theater production. He has lived in a dormitory for more than 20 years straight, having first lived in a dorm at age 14.
Savannah Sessions

Teaching Librarian – History
B.A. Smith College
Girls’ Varsity Soccer Coach


Ms. Sessions grew up in the nearby town of Norway, Maine. After graduating from Smith, she dabbled in jobs ranging from dairy farming to banking, but found her true vocation working with adolescents (turns out…dairy farming and banking are actually not irrelevant to working at Gould!). Ms. Sessions started her tenure in the College Counseling Center and later transitioned to teaching history. She now spends her class days in the library or in the classroom with her ninth grade students. After school, time spent on the soccer field or cross country ski trails gives Ms. Sessions great joy. She loves living in Davidson with her best canine pal Loki, singing/making music, and trying to be an active member of the Greater Bethel Community.

Katie Stack

English Studies Teacher
B.A. St. Lawrence University
M.S. University of New England
History Department Chair
Fall Equestrian
Ski Patrol Program
Spring Outing Club
Tenth Grade Program


Mrs. Stack teaches ninth grade Human Geography and tenth grade West and the World. She also manages the Tenth Grade Program, which focuses on supporting students as they transition into young adults, using service learning as the vehicle to encourage their understanding of the bigger world and their place in the Gould community. In all of Mrs. Stack’s classes and programs, her goal is to seamlessly incorporate technology, differentiation, the writing process, and focused discussion methods as part of the core curriculum. In addition to teaching, she is an advisor and helps with the Equestrian Team. Mrs. Stack lives off campus with her husband, Brian, their daughter, Gwen, and son, Preston. In her free time she enjoys being outside and playing with her children in the sandbox.