Out of the Classroom and Off the Grid with Chris Hayward

November 9, 2016

Faculty Spotlight: Chris Hayward P ’16, ’19

At Gould, we define experiential learning as learning by doing. Instead of simply reading about a topic or listening to a lecture, students are actively engaged, often outside the traditional classroom. Studying river ecology on the Androscoggin, learning winter expedition skills on Junior Four Point, tutoring Somali refugees in Lewiston, traveling to Tanzania as part of Freshman Four Point, learning how to splint a broken arm with Sunday River ski patrol – all of this is vital to the life and learning of the Gould student and an essential aspect of who we are as a school. Director of Experiential Learning, Chris Hayward, cares deeply about teaching students hard and soft skills through experiences.

“I grew up off the grid – no power, no running water until I was 12 years old,” remembers Chris. “In that situation there are immediate consequences. If we wanted a warm house, we had to bring the wood in. If we wanted light we had to make sure the kerosene was in the lantern.”

Chris Hayward teaching Wilderness First Aid class in the Yurt at Pine Hill.

Chris Hayward teaching Wilderness First Aid class in the Yurt at Pine Hill.

In so many ways, experiential learning requires a student to apply lessons directly to real-life situations, to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and to acknowledge that all tests don’t include bubbles to fill in. Students at Gould have extraordinary opportunities to see how they can make an impact locally and globally.

“That hands-on learning, those outdoor experiences, working with people from around the world or locally at the Bethel food pantry, there is a direct and immediate connection for the student. Sometimes, that direct connection is tough to see in a classroom…[With experiential learning] students understand that their potential is much greater than they thought…their eyes are wide open.”

Chris also practices what he preaches. He is a passionate outdoorsman who once ran Maine’s “100 mile wilderness” section of the Appalachian Trail in under 39 hours (it takes most mortals 9-12 days); he is a veteran ski patroller at Sunday River and often spends winter mornings heading UP the mountain with Gould students as part of the Earn Your Turns club; he has traveled with students to Tanzania and Guatemala; and he is a certified Wilderness First Aid instructor, sharing that skill with Gould faculty and students. Chris also gives back by serving as Director of the Mahoosuc Mountain Search and Rescue Team, an all volunteer search and rescue team that serves Western Maine.

“It involves organizing a group of volunteers who have the skills and experience to go into the mountains when a call is there,” Chris says. “If someone is in trouble on Old Speck or other places in the Maine woods, we get the call from the Maine Warden Service to assist and it feels good to put our skills to good use. We are happy to help when the need is there, and we would want the same thing if we were in trouble.”

We are proud to have Chris and his family as part of the Gould community and lucky to have him guiding our students.

Experiential Learning

Chris with a group of students from the Tumaini School in Tanzania.

Faculty Spotlight Q & A

Chris Hayward

High School: Wiscasset, Maine

College: Saint Joseph’s College, Windham, Maine

Proudest Achievement: Following through with goals I set for myself.

Last book I read: Creative Schools by Ken Robinson

My soundtrack is: Xavier Rudd’s Music

Movie I would recommend: Lord of the Rings (2001)

Favorite food: Anything cooked on a wilderness expedition

One word that describes me: Active

Best advice I ever received:
Success is when you can’t tell the difference between working and playing.

What’s the last thing you crossed off your bucket list? Drive across the country.

Why Gould?
It has it all! Great teachers, great programs, great location!

Experiential Learning

Weekend surfing trip


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