On January 27, we had a wonderful start to our series of monthly virtual open houses. With the theme of “Where Do They Go from Here? How do Ashwood students fare in high school and beyond,” participants Jesse Snider ’11 [sarah: can we look up his year?], Kate Kemper ’16, and Daniel Snider ’17 described their experiences, while high school teacher and alumna parent Ronni Blaisdell added the teacher’s perspective on what it’s like to have Ashwood students in her high school classes at Watershed. The evening concluded with some great questions from attendees on topics such as conflict resolution and culture shock in high school.

Daniel (pictured back-right with Kate, foreground, at Homecoming with (L to R) Rachel Sizeler-Fletcher ’16, Andrew Levitt ’16, Sophia Mott ’17, and Caleb Edwards ’17) is currently a senior at Belfast High School, and credits the Ashwood pedagogy with connecting students to the learning process on a higher level. “When it comes to school I know how to be interested, have fun, and create something that I can feel proud of.” He referenced the 8th grade project—for which Daniel chose woodturning and was mentored by a master woodworker—as one of the best experiences of his young life. This sparked a continued passion for woodworking, and he even included examples from his 8th grade project in his recently completed college applications.

Kate is currently a freshman at University of Maine Orono and a recently declared a physics major. Kate’s passion for Ashwood is infectious, and she credits the school with giving students all the foundational skills they will need to thrive both academically and interpersonally. While drawn to the arts and literature throughout high school, Kate was surprised to discover a new passion for math and science in college. “Ashwood allowed me to explore most any subject… [Y]ou’re exposed to so much, and it opens up a world of opportunities for study. You can go anywhere with the [foundation given by] Ashwood.” Kate also noted that Ashwood’s small community helped her build close relationships and gave her confidence in her communication skills with both students and teachers.

Jesse is a senior at College of the Atlantic, studying education and farming and food systems. His emphasis on place-based education links back to his formative experiences in Ashwood’s early childhood classes. Jesse remembers always being encouraged to explore and follow things that interested him, all in a supportive and inclusive environment. “This allowed me to open up and have an amazing range of experiences. As a little kid you’re just excited to go to school and play, learn, and create relationships, but now I can directly relate these early experiences to the foundations of who I am as a human and my ability to care for other people and to care for the environment around me.” Like Kate, Jesse also mentioned the ease he feels in connecting with teachers and professors on a human level, because he sees them not as “higher ups” but as people helping him in the learning process. 

As an alum myself, I found it moving to hear all three alumni connect their experiences at Ashwood with the ability to thrive both academically and personally. To access a recording of the virtual open house, or a clip featuring Jesse, see below. 

Valerie Shepard ’05; member, Ashwood board of trustees

A 7-minute clip from the open house, featuring Jesse Snider on how his EC experience at Ashwood shaped his thinking and life choices.

To view a recording of the entire open house, click here.