What if learning didn’t come from a textbook? What if backpacking through the White Mountains, volunteering at the New Hampshire Veterans Home, or exploring the whaling industry and its aftermath on Nantucket were actually part of the curriculum? Thanks to Jonathan Schwab ’02, the Director of Experiential Learning, these experiences are all part of the curriculum at New Hampton School in New Hampshire which believes that creating meaningful environments in which authentic learning can occur is essential.
When speaking with Jonathan, he expanded on the benefits of experiential learning explaining that these experiences often allow students a better understanding of differing worldviews, something he first encountered at Moravian Academy as a sophomore following his family’s move from Kansas City, MO.
Recalls Jonathan, “There was something that clicked between me and the school that allowed me to meet a ton of people from different religious or cultural backgrounds, who were accepting of who I was. Empathy was in the framework of everything at the school. There was no ‘Moravian Academy student mold’ to fit.”
He specifically remembers how empathy was woven into the classroom experience, recalling how former Upper School English teacher Mrs. Tracy Beck-Briggs used literature from all over the world to illustrate differing worldviews in her global literature class and how former Upper School history teacher Mr. William Caldwell always stressed the concept of learning everyone’s story to understand the whole picture.
Mr. Caldwell made such a lasting impression on Jonathan that he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Providence College and a master’s degree in history from the University of Vermont. Said Jonathan, “When I teach history, I’m focused on getting my students to understand that their point of view is only one point of view. We can all experience the same event and have completely different perspectives based on where we are coming from. My eyes were certainly opened to that at Moravian and I’ve been able to build upon that foundation with the adults and
students that I work with every day.”
When not teaching history or serving as the Director of Experiential Learning, Jonathan also serves as House Head in Moore House, one of the student residences at the independent boarding school for grades 9-12. He resides at the residence with his wife and three children. Although Moravian did not operate as a boarding school during his time at the school, Jonathan held in a high regard Moravian’s sense of community that did not simply end at 3 o’clock.
“I wanted to be part of a high school community that was similar to Moravian,” stated Jonathan. “I was swayed into pursuing this path because I have a passion for the [high school] age group because it was this time in my life, when I was at Moravian, that was foundational and transformational for me.”This article appeared in the Spring 2019 Moravian Academy Journal on page 23.