The White Mountain School’s location plays a role in helping it climb to the top of private schools in New Hampshire. Learn more in this podcast with WMS Director of Student Inquiry and Research.
John: Hi I'm John Maher I'm here today with Sara Kelley-Mudie, Director of Student Inquiry and Research at The White Mountain School, a private college prep day and boarding school in New Hampshire. Today we're talking about The White Mountain School’s location identity. Welcome Sara.
Sara: Thank you, John.
How the WMS Location Shapes Its Identity as One of the Top Private Schools in New Hampshire
John: Sara, as one of the top private schools in New Hampshire, how much do you think that your location in the White Mountains of New Hampshire plays a part in the School's identity?
Sara: What I love about where we are is that it allows us to see farther both literally and figuratively. We can really draw inspiration from where we are and from the top of a mountain, see into the distance and be inspired by the world around us, but that also there are so many places and so many opportunities for contemplation to sort of disconnect from distraction and from consumer culture and to really look inward. [We] have the time and the space to do that and so between the opportunities to be inspired by the world around us and to reflect on what's within us, it creates some powerful learning opportunities for students.
John: I think that's really important in today's high-tech culture, where I think so many young people, and older people as well, just sort of get stuck in the idea that something has to be happening at all times, and I have to be getting input going into my brain at all times, whether it's from the television or the radio. We almost don't let ourselves now have any time for peace and quiet and inner contemplation like you're talking about. I think that's pretty special that in a location like this. It fosters that desire to want to disconnect maybe from some of that technology and take that inward look where you can learn a little bit more about yourself and what it is that makes you who you are.
Sara: Yeah, we really we take deliberate opportunities to disconnect from technology and do that self-reflection, but also to connect with one another and to learn from the different people in our community in the wealth of experiences that they bring to the WMS.
WMS Location and Opportunities for Learning
John: What does the location of the school mean for student’s growth in terms of the availability of places for research and opportunities for learning?
Sara: Many students are really inspired by the places that they encounter while a student at WMS. Even right on campus, students have done research on the water quality of the pond on campus. I have a student right now who is interested in the history and possible features of the Ammonoosuc River. So really inspired by what's right here.
Students also have opportunities on field courses twice a year to explore the communities both nearby and farther fields and really connect with an area and understand the place deeply. But I think it's also important to remember that we are not bounded by the 250 acres on which we set. There are all sorts of opportunities to connect through the web, through the different connections that the members of our community have in the world beyond. It's a really a beautiful blend in that we can be deeply inspired by where we are, but also reach out and make connections all over the world.
WMS Inquiry Based Learning
John: What about the school's inquiry-based learning model? Does the location that you have in New England and in the White Mountains help students to get motivated for their work given that style of teaching and learning?
Sara: Absolutely. Like I was saying, it's really powerful for students to be surrounded. It's powerful for all of us to be surrounded by things greater than ourselves, and to wonder about the world around us and to connect with other people who are pursuing questions, who are pursuing their passions. We are in this tight-knit little community with people who are engaged with their passions, and it's hard not to be inspired when you are with so many people who are deeply engaged with questions.
John: When a student has something that they're interested in, how does the school help them to formulate that interest into a question and in into a project or a field of study that they can then pursue in particular because of this location that you're in?
Sara: That is really what I love about the size of our community in particular. There are all of the opportunities for deep conversations with students about their questions. Many of those are highly individual as a student develops a passion and develops a question, they can really connect with a faculty member who shares their interest, who can help to connect them with someone else who shares their interest and so those conversations are highly individual, which I think is very powerful.
John: All right well that's really great information Sara, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Sara: Thank you.