Gould Academy, Leading Education Innovation

February 2, 2016

This past weekend was Winter Parents and Family Weekend.  Parents and students learned about upcoming Four Point trips: travel to China and Tanzania, winter expedition, and immersion in the arts and community service. 10th-graders took a deep dive into academic planning and college counseling as 11th-grade approaches.  I think my favorite part was our night hike out to Gould’s new yurt at Pine Hill. It was a wonderful weekend.

At assembly on Saturday morning, after recently celebrating Gould’s 180th birthday, we took some time to think about Gould’s history as a leader in education innovation.  Below are my remarks.

Go Huskies!

Matt

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Welcome to Winter Parent and Family Weekend.

Hard to believe, but we are at the halfway mark in the year.

Put another way…

Seniors and families of seniors, it is 126 days to graduation.

9th graders, you’ve got 1221 days to graduation, 3 years, 4 months, and 5 days. But, trust me, it will go so quickly.

It’s good to see you all this morning. While we, faculty and students, gather together like this four or five times each week, only a few times a year do we have so many of our students and parents together in the same room. Most of the time we are scattered across the state, the country, the globe.

I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on Gould’s leadership in education and innovation, and how we plan to move Gould — and your students — forward.

Gould has a long history of innovation. Last week, our school celebrated its 180th birthday. 180 years of learning, growing and community in this beautiful place.

We were one of the earliest schools to have campus-wide internet with student access. We’ve been a leader in experiential learning through our Four Point Program.  Our partnership with Sunday River has created a multifaceted on-snow and academic learning environment with few — if any — peers.  Schools are visiting Gould to see what’s happening with design thinking and our music partnership with Manhattan School of Music. Gould’s leadership has been recognized recently by receiving a $100,00 grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation to help us expand the teaching and learning in the Marlon Family IDEAS Center.

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Our students are doing incredible things: Eight of our music students participated in the District 2 Music Festival. Richie Hoge is building himself a high speed winch to assist him in flat land snowboard jumps (oh, and he is also part of a team building a remote controlled submarine with Grace Scheirwagen). Shannon Maguire was named the female U.S. representative for boardercross to the Youth Olympic Games. Demetri Maxim is one of 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Searchhe’ll be heading to the White House in a few weeks as part of this honor. Our students are helping to  bring nutritious food to families in Bethel, teaching English to Somali families in Lewiston, working with veterans, and helping adaptive skiers. They want to make things better. They are innovators and doers. That’s in the DNA of this place. 

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Of course, this is all driven by our faculty, educational leaders who face the challenges of our day, whether scientific or social, technological or ethical. They meet these challenges head on, developing programs and experiences that will inspire our students and ground them in the challenges and responsibilities they will certainly face.

And our faculty lead by example in their work beyond Gould. They are school board members, town selectmen, ski patrollers, fireman, outdoor adventurers, published writers, entrepreneurs, artists, ship captains, and scientists.

But we didn’t come this far only to come this far. Let’s talk about what we’ve been doing to push innovation forward.

We  have worked steadily over the last three years to bring blended learning to Gould, a blend of classroom and online instruction that will extend the teacher-student relationship, improve individual learning, and create new opportunities for independent work. Next fall we will offer blended learning in all of our 11th and 12th grade classes.

We are creating new opportunities for collaboration, independent creative work, and student-led learning by bringing design thinking into the core of our educational approach and by establishing the Marlon Family IDEAS Center, a space designed for this work.

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Next fall we will deploy a portfolio platform that will capture the Gould experience of each student and ultimately carry the same cultural weight as the student transcript. Creativity and independent work will now have a worthy home that will extend out to colleges and professional life.

We have developed new experiential programs that make the most of our amazing place, people, and facilities.

This fall we will launch a Science Research program for committed science students who desire internships and independent research opportunities. We have established our Outdoor Leadership Program; the students in this program embrace the outdoors and you can see this in their schedule just last week: avalanche training, wilderness first responder training, and skinning up and skiing down 3 mountains. And we will continue to grow our success with the Manhattan School of Music and invest in the performing arts by making upgrades to Bingham Auditorium.

We have also begun our time study.  We are looking beyond the traditional cells and bells model, a system designed for industrial management not igniting a life of learning. In essence, we are going to rebuild time at Gould. We need to build our  community’s time to better support our programs.  Build it for mastery and customization that deepens learning. Build it to open opportunities that come from the flexibility of blended learning. Build it to support experiential learning opportunities on campus and beyond.

So, these are exciting times.

This is what our students need and it is why we have begun funding these needs through the GouldNow Initiative.

The GouldNow Initiative is a  three-year, $5 million campaign designed to fuel the innovation and excellence that is happening NOW at Gould Academy.

It will fuel the programs – On Snow, Four Point, Performing Arts, Outdoor Leadership, the IDEAS Center, and Science Research –  that give our students the opportunity to soar and that prepare them to lead in a complex world.

It will support our faculty who are leading us forward and who embrace each student, developing the relationships that foster resilience, achievement, and creativity.

The GouldNow initiative will be the rocket fuel that takes us to the next level. We have already secured almost $400,000 in commitments, but we are just beginning. Each of those dollars goes back to be invested in your son, your daughter, our teachers. I look forward to your support.

Our students are on the move. Our faculty are on the move. I’m sure you can tell, but I love talking about this school and these students and their teachers. You as parents are a vital part of our community. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please come find me, email or call me. If you want to be involved or you want to learn more, please come find me. The more input, the more help, the more involvement we have, the better this place will be.

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We’re so glad that you’re here. Have a wonderful time this weekend.

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