by Nina Auslander
What is your background? How did you get interested in education?
I became interested in teaching toward the end of my college experience. I had really fallen in love with physics and sharing that passion through teaching seemed an obvious choice. I was also probably influenced by the fact that my father was a teacher and administrator in schools his whole career. I quickly found the work in schools to be invigorating. To me, working with students is incredibly rewarding — helping them learn and grow into citizens who will help make the world a better place.
What are some approaches towards education that you have from your old school that you plan on bringing to Watershed?
I don't really think about bringing approaches from White Mountain to Watershed. I really want to learn about and support the best of what is already happening at Watershed. That said, at White Mountain we are working on having students more involved in discussion about program improvements. I would want to be sure that students have a proactive role in helping to shape the educational experience at the school.
What aspects of Watershed most excites you?
I am particularly excited about the work the students and teachers do at Watershed. By wrestling with big questions and engaging in the community, it becomes clear that education is not about memorization and recall, it's about about preparing for life in our complicated world. It seems to me that Watershed students learn not just about the world, but in the world and for the world.
What aspects of Colorado excite you the most?
I have been intrigued with Colorado since childhood — the beauty of the mountains, the wide-open spaces. This is a bit hokey to share, but in 4th grade everyone had to choose a state to do a report on: I chose Colorado. As an adult I have hiked and camped in Rocky Mountain National Park and skied at Vail, Snowmass, and Copper Mountain. I have also spent time in Denver and Boulder and really enjoy the culture and the openness of the people I've met.
At this point, do you see yourself bringing any major changes to Watershed? If so, what do you believe the school can improve upon the most?
As I mentioned above, I really hope to learn more about the strengths of Watershed before making any judgments about changes. In general, I feel that the best way for a school to evolve is to really identify the strengths, and work to build upon those strengths.
Do you have any plans to address the lack of economic and racial diversity at Watershed?
This is an important part of Watershed's future work, and I am glad to see that it is an active conversation at the school. I'm bringing no specific plans, but I know from my experience here at White Mountain that it is an all school endeavor — everyone has a role to play as we wrestle with resources and working to be sure the community is welcoming and supportive of all.