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High 5 has been a part of Olin College's program for first year students for over ten years. When we were first contacted about working with them, it was said that our approach to education was very in synch with the educational direction of this emerging college for engineers founded in 1997. Little did we know at that time that Olin would establish itself as the most innovative engineering school in the country.

The excerpt below is from a recent book by Thomas Friedman, Thank You for Being Late about living in the age of "acceleration."

"New approaches to rapid learning are already filtering into the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions, with some radically new models popping up. Consider just one example: Olin College. In a speech, the school's president, Richard K. Miller, explained that in 1997, the F.W. Olin Foundation established Olin College for the specific purpose of inventing a new paradigm for engineering education that prepares students to become exemplary engineering innovators ready to take on the biggest problems."

Check out this quick video of our work together!

"Improvisation is what you must do constantly, it is well beyond problem-based learning or even project-based learning. You are literally marching into a forest that no one has explored in search of things you have never seen."

High 5 is thrilled to be a part of this innovative institution. Our work with their first year students helps kick off college career with a day of thinking creatively, working cooperatively and exploring things they "have never seen."

Dat first came to High 5 for the 2015 Annual High 5 Practitioner's Symposium with the East Hartford Youth Services Bureau student group. His vivacious enthusiasm and positive attitude stood out in the crowd!

Dat's personality and the way he showed up - ready to Connect, Empower and Lead -stood out. Ryan McCormick, Edge of Leadership's (EOL) Director, quickly identified him as a great potential participant and contributor for the EOL Summer Program and invited him to attend.

Not surprisingly, Dat brought the same excitement and charisma to the summer program as a leader, motivator, energizer, and spreader of positivity.

EOL facilitator Anne Louise Wagner recalls, "I was fortunate to be in Dat's dialogue group on the final day of the summer program. This gave me the opportunity to see a different side of Dat. When a teacher in the group shared about a challenging moment, Dat identified with her obstacles, experiencing similar challenges in his life, and had the courage to share. The stories and heartfelt exchange was a very special moment for me".

We are thrilled that only is Dat interested in returning to EOL's 3-day summer program in 2016 as a Student Facilitator, but he has chosen to pursue a degree in Adventure Education.

Dat writes,

"I am excited to say that I will be majoring in adventure education at Plymouth State University in the pursuit to further my skills and experience! Everyone at High 5 has made a big impact in that decision and I would like to say thank you for the opportunity."

Dat, thank you from all of us at High 5 for sharing your news! We'll be watching for your future contributions to adventure education, and to the world!

If you are interested in learning more about Edge of Leadership or how your high school or youth program can participate in the Edge of Leadership Summer Program, give Anne Louise or Ryan a call at 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445

This was just one of the many questions teachers came away with after shadowing a high school student for one full day of school. The shadowing initiative, which most teachers called "eye-opening", was developed and organized by Edge of Leadership students at Lincoln Sudbury High School.

Here is the story of how it began...

It started four years ago when Lincoln Sudbury High School (LSHS) teacher Amanda Klein and several of her students attended Edge Of Leadership's (EOL) High School Summer Program at High 5 for the first time.

Amanda, referred to by her students as Klein, is a true teacher champion, believing not only in her students but also in authentic youth empowerment, voice, and leadership. Klein was a perfect EOL fit and after a great first year, she returned with an even larger group of amazing students the next year. Among them, a 15-year old student named Heidi who, although nobody knew it at the time, would come to have a profound impact on the entire EOL program - and on the teachers and students at her high school.

The story continues...

Each year EOL high school students are asked, "What can you do to improve the community at your high school?" The students of LSHS identified a strong disconnect between faculty and students. They determined that their focus would be to build stronger student-teacher connections, but the question remained, "How are we going to do that?"

This is where Heidi comes in. Heidi had come across an article entitled "A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Shadows 2 Students for 2 Days- A sobering Lesson Learned". The article is about the amazing insight a teacher/coach gained from shadowing students for two days. Inspired by the article, Heidi suggested the EOL group at LSHS organize a similar experience for their school's teachers. Heidi, mentored by Klein and supported by her peers, put her ideas into action. This was no easy task, but the EOL group crafted a plan and presented their proposal to the administration. High 5's EOL staff spent time helping students design an action plan not only for conducting the day, but also to capture and share the participating teachers' key learnings with the entire staff and administration.

In the first session, only 2 teachers shadowed students but their response to the experience was inspiring. The teachers were surprised how much their experience could improve their teaching. Through this powerful, student-led professional development opportunity, teachers gained not only insight, but also empathy.

After the success of the initiative at LSHS and in recognition of her leadership, we invited Heidi to return to the EOL Summer program to play a new role as a student facilitator. Heidi and two other students from LSHS shared their initiative with the other EOL groups attending from high schools across New England. Several of the EOL groups began planning similar initiatives, including our home team at Keene High School.

Recently, LSHS conducted another student shadow day but this time 9 teachers participated over two weeks. The success of the first session convinced LSHS administration to budget for substitutes and organize class coverage for a much larger number of teachers. Again, teachers responded that the experience was "eye opening."

To capture the learning, the team interviewed several of the participating teachers. The team is currently putting together a presentation for the entire faculty. During a recent site visit, Anne Louise and Ryan were able to do a mini-interview with students that you can view at the link. Below the link we've also summarized some of the teacher feedback following their experience.

You can watch the video here.

This is a perfect example of leadership in action and the goals of High 5's Edge of Leadership program.

Heidi has had a pivotal role in shaping how High 5 support schools after the EOL Summer Program. Her name will forever be part of EOL history - and part of the culture of student/teacher connection at Lincoln Sudbury High School.

Sampling of actual teacher reflections:

"The transition from one class to another, it was very challenging to switch mindsets from one subject to another so quickly (Physically and Mentally.)"

"It is easy to "check out" when I had trouble understanding the material."

"Physical switching, going from one building to another, getting to class on time, how quickly some activity was starting at the beginning of class; there was not a lot of extra time; feeling tired at the end of the day, exhausted mentally."

"The day seemed very long. How do students remember everything from the whole day? It seemed like the time between the first block and the last block was an eternity."

"I really enjoyed the experience overall, especially the free blocks. Now I see why students love and need them. I didn't expect that at all."

"Transition-- made me think about my own teaching style and what actually works for students/ audience. In the end, the class is not for me but the students. I'll now be much more aware. I'll start class with music to help students connect to the present class. I knew it before but never experienced it."

"Making sure that everyone is reached, not necessarily everyone talks, but that everyone gets engaged in different ways."

"Cognitive/ academic flexibility that is necessary for students. Have to be good at many different skills throughout day."

"I think that it is really important for teachers to see what a day looks like for students. It is busy, dynamic, frustrating, and takes a lot of fortitude! I will definitely keep that in mind as I plan my future classes."

"Makes you remember what you have forgotten about students' challenges and struggles. I make connections to my shadowing experience all the time while teaching."

For more info on Edge of Leadership, contact Ryan McCormick or Anne Louise Wagner at High 5 - 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445

When we get intimate in our workshops, how much are we able to be ourselves?

In a recent multi-day workshop a participant sat down next to me during a break and asked, "Now, how much of the 'real' Liz have we been getting?" I asked him what he meant. He went on to explain that as he listened to me talk about adventure education, its purpose and strength, and watched me lead under it's direction, he began to wonder how much of my leadership was truly 'me' as opposed to 'professional me'.

Our discussion ensued considering the differences, if any, there are between a 'real' and 'professional' leader in this industry.

I bring it up to consider: In your work, how much of yourself do you give, or are you able to give, and how often do you need a professional face?
When we get intimate in our workshops, how much are we able to be ourselves?

Please share your thoughts!

Adventures in Physics


Connecting Adventure to the Classroom

Adventure learning is what we do here at High 5 and there's nothing more fulfilling then when a student's passion for learning is ignited. That's why when Maureen Fagan from Four Rivers Charter School challenged us to bring her physics lessons to life we said, bring it on!

Hulbert to High 5

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We are often asked at conferences and in trainings how we ended up with such great jobs. Each one of us has a different story, a different path that has landed us at High 5 Adventure, but for 3 of us... that story has a similar sound. That path meandered through the same place, the Hulbert Outdoor Center.

Lake George Video


This is a great little video of Lake George students who just finished up their Adventure Unit. Thanks Kyle.

High 5 Website Makeover!

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High 5's website makeover gives us a New look, New features... AND a staff blog. Still to come is a new online store with our Challenge course products, adventure facilitator products and our books. Stay tuned!

When it has been too long since your last visit to us here in Vermont... you can make a virtual visit to our website for the latest news and information in the High 5 world.

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