Eight new teachers and fellows joined the Maine Coast Semester and Elementary and Middle School teaching teams in August. Each brings unique talents, deep love of the natural world, and an incredible dedication to nature-based education. Two weeks into the 2020 school year, these characters are deeply enmeshed in life at Chewonki. Please join us in welcoming them to the Chewonki community.
Becca Havian, Maine Coast Semester Teaching Fellow
Becca graduated from Bates College in 2019 with a BA in Rhetoric. During her time at Bates, Becca was a Mediation and Restorative Justice Fellow, Captain of the ultimate frisbee team, and President of the school’s all-female a cappella group. She also worked on the literary magazine and led backpacking trips as an outdoor orientation leader for incoming students.
In the year following her graduation, Becca bopped around quite a bit; she learned about effective leadership on a NOLS Rocky Mountain course, WWOOFed in Spain and France, and worked on the Warren campaign as an Organizing Fellow.
Now, Becca welcomes the sense of community that Chewonki so lovingly offers, and is eager to foster a warm, inclusive environment for students. She believes that Chewonki presents a unique opportunity for students to expand upon their comfort zones while remaining true to who they are:
“We tell our children that ‘brave’ means feeling afraid and doing it anyway… I do not want my children to become people who abandon themselves to please the crowd.” (Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”)
Bob Bennett, Maine Coast Semester Teaching Fellow
Bob is excited to join the Maine Coast Semester community for 2020. Bob was first introduced to Chewonki as a wilderness trips leader in the summer of 2019, and continued through the fall as an outdoor educator for Chewonki’s Outdoor Classroom program.
Bob graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2016, with a degree in political science and participating on the school’s lacrosse team. Upon graduation Bob spent two years serving with AmeriCorps on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he was building trails, assisting with marine mammal rescues, and engaging with the community. Bob also spent a semester with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), where he discovered that he’s happiest at the intersection of wilderness and education.
When Bob’s not on Chewonki neck he enjoys spending time with his family and trying new activities. He recently picked up surfing and is eager to blend this new passion with his love of traveling. Friends and family often describe Bob as adaptable and a life-long learner, eager to meet new people and inspired easily.
Grace Warder, Maine Coast Semester Teaching Fellow
Grace joins the Maine Coast Semester team this fall as a Teaching Fellow. Although new to the Chewonki family, her love for teaching, community, and the environment make her a fitting addition.
A recent graduate of Maine’s own Bates College, Grace majored in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Human Culture. During her time at Bates, in addition to her Environmental Studies degree, Grace completed Bates’s specialized Teacher Education minor. Through this program, Grace had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant in a variety of K-8 classrooms in Lewiston, Maine. As one of the most diverse school districts in Maine, Lewiston required a necessary breadth of classroom flexibility and personal connection with students.
The final year of her time at Bates was spent completing her teaching certification at Lewiston Middle School in an 8th grade Social Studies class. This certification has not only granted Grace a range of educational experience, but also a love for teaching and learning that led her to Chewonki.
Her love for adventure and the outdoors is shown through her role as a trip leader and coordinator of Bates’s Outdoor Orientation Program, a summer trip leader for Apogee Adventures, a student of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and her affinity for exploring the lakes and mountains of Maine.
Hannah Marshall Outdoor Program Coordinator
Hannah is originally from Huntington, a small town nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont, but spent the last eight years studying and working in Maine. She graduated in 2016 with a degree in Earth and Oceanographic Science from Bowdoin College in nearby Brunswick. While there she was a leader with the Outing Club, captain of the Nordic Ski Team, and studied abroad in both Nepal and arctic Norway.
She spent her first year out of school working as hut crew for Maine Huts and Trails, a non-profit in western Maine, at their backcountry eco-lodges. Hannah came to Chewonki in the Spring of 2017. She hit the ground running and has led outdoor programming here ever since. In addition to working for the Outdoor Classroom and supporting school programs at Chewonki, Hannah has led backpacking and canoeing trips for Camp Chewonki in the summer, including the Maine State Youth Wilderness Leadership Expedition in Baxter State Park and a 5-week expedition on the George River in Northern Quebec and Labrador. Some of her favorite things include geology, maple syrup and patterned socks. She is excited to be joining the Maine Coast Semester team to help lead residential and outdoor programming!
Jennifer Surgenor, Elementary and Middle School Grades 3/4/5 Teacher
Jenny Surgenor grew up in western Pennsylvania at a year-round overnight camp run by her parents, where she developed a love of the outdoors and working with children. She attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Studies and English with a minor in Outdoor Studies. She also has her Masters in Elementary Education from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire.
Jenny has worked as an educator in public and private elementary schools over the last 15 years. She taught at the Sage School in Foxboro, Massachusetts for 12 years, where she was not only a lead teacher in the middle elementary grades, but also a division leader and summer camp director. Most recently, Jenny worked as Associate Director of Admissions for Early Childhood at the Gordon School in East Providence, Rhode Island. This experience not only allowed her expand her skill set, but also helped Jenny to further develop her interest in teaching a multicultural curriculum, and reignited her passion for creating inclusive learning communities that celebrate and honor diversity.
Jenny is thrilled to bring her enthusiastic curiosity, her love of teaching and the outdoors, as well as her collaborative and humble spirit and to the classroom and community at Chewonki. Her family has vacationed in the area for several decades, and she is excited to further explore the Maine coast as a year-round resident. Jenny loves many outdoor activities and when she is inside, she can often be found reading, playing board games, quilting, or writing.
Lucy Wanzer, Maine Coast Semester Teaching Fellow
A Maine Coast Semester 51 Alum, and a native of Portland, Maine, Lucy is very excited to join the Science teaching team fall 2020.
Lucy graduated from Wellesley College in 2019 and holds a degree in Geosciences. She is excited about all things related to climate, oceanography, and rocks! In college, Lucy participated in multiple scientific research cruises, her favorite being a trip in the North Atlantic that departed from Iceland.
This past year, Lucy was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. This fellowship gave her the opportunity to pursue a passion project on a global scale. She studied small boats in coastal communities and her fellowship took her to Greece, Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia. In each country, she studied a specific type of boat local to the area. One of her favorite parts of traveling is eating! She loved the tomatoes and olive oil in Greece and the curry and rambutan in Indonesia.
Shelly Gibson, Maine Coast Semester Associate Dean of Students
Shelly moved into the role Associate Dean of Students earlier this summer. She designs programming that fosters growth, collaboration, and inclusivity across all Chewonki programs including Chewonki Elementary and Middle School, Maine Coast Semester, Outdoor Classroom, and Camp Chewonki. She holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees from Penn State University in Psychology and Philosophy and received her post-graduate diploma in Outdoor Education at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Shelly has always wanted to understand connections between people, their environment, and how group work can create meaningful changes from within and as part of a larger community. She grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and spent 9 years working and living at an independent school in Connecticut before falling in love with Maine and moving to Portland in 2016. Shelly shares her love of city life with the beaches and mountains of New England; skiing, kayaking, backpacking, or playing with family and friends.
Shelly began working at Chewonki in 2016 as our Challenge Course Coordinator and later moved into the role of Team Development Coordinator.
Zachary Whiting, Outdoor Program Coordinator
After leading wilderness trips for Chewonki since 2017, Zachary has joined the outdoor program team full time to continue creating memorable experiences for youth in the outdoors. His goal is to make others genuinely enjoy learning about themselves, others, and the environment.
Zachary graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2015 with a B.S. in Kinesiology – Outdoor Education. Since graduating, he has been in a variety of places working on challenge courses, teaching skiing, leading wilderness trips, and helping to run a high school boarding residential program. He can normally be found throwing frisbees, paddling canoes, or searching for powder to ski. Other passions include ice hockey, board games, writing songs on the uke, and eating burritos.