Jen Lazar, Co-Founder and Program Director
Jen was the Program Director and Associate Executive Director of the DREAM Program, and has previously directed adventure trips for high school and college students in New York, Washington, D.C., Vermont, Maine, Alaska, and California. During this time she was also a commissioner for the Burlington, VT, city school board and a research associate at Char Associates, a Vermont based program impact and evaluation firm. She graduated from Williams College and holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Jen loves to host brunch, play Capture the Flag, and revel in the outdoors in just about any weather. She hopes to one day master her own recipe for barbecue sauce.
Heather Foran, Co-Founder and Director of Professional Services
Heather was a program director for the Traveling School and has led more than 100 students in 12 different countries. She directed the education program and summer camp at a demonstration farm in Maine, and is currently an international corporate coach and facilitator for Coverdale, Inc. She is a graduate of Williams College and is completing a Masters degree in Transformative Leadership and Applied Organizational Development through Prescott College. She lives in Portland, ME, where she organizes permaculture garden installation work parties. Heather loves to play Ultimate Frisbee, cross country ski next to the ocean, cook with friends, and discover creative ways to grow food in the city.
Nat Locke, Academic Program Director, Leadership & Changemaking Teacher
Nat got started in education at residential outdoor education programs in high school and subsequently spent six years as a curriculum designer and facilitator at a residential summer camp in Oregon. Most recently, Nat served as the Director of Education and Programs at Aynah, a non-profit that provides experiential education about cooperative businesses and social justice. In work, as in life, Nat emphasizes democratic group process, youth empowerment, and play. When not educating, Nat can be found on stage in their world beat jam band, working on their cooperative house, or riding their bicycle.
Bekah Hykan, Logistics Program Director, Economics & the Environment Teacher
Born and raised in Colorado, Bekah developed a deep love of wild places. She received a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Willamette University and a M.Ed through Prescott College, where she focused on incorporating social justice into field-based education. Bekah spent many summers guiding teenagers through the canyons and mountains in the Southwest. She also taught History and Global Studies at The Traveling School in Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Bekah loves working with young people in any and all capacities. She spent the last several years teaching skiing, working in both Montessori and public schools, taking students climbing and rafting and supporting students as they explore their big questions about the world. When she's not teaching Bekah is making a mess in her kitchen, throwing pottery, learning to mountain bike or playing with her puppy Finnegan. Bekah is excited to sit in circles and share stories this summer...while enjoying scrumptious food!
Jarrod Wilson, Natural Sciences Teacher
Jarrod has lived in the mountains of Appalachia his entire life. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast and gardener with a leaning toward the intersection of science and traditional Appalachian living. Jarrod has been involved in the local food movement, has worked to reestablish plants native to this region, and is an expert at chasing chickens out of the garden. Jarrod has a deep interest in sustainability, and believes that many of the solutions to moving forward lie hidden in the past. Jarrod is so excited to share and learn with the students this summer and experience his region through their eyes.
Humza Mirza, Teaching Intern
Humza is the teaching intern for the trip, who hails from the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island. He was one of the first students to be in the Field Academy and is excited to return as a mentor. He is a senior at the University of Connecticut where he majors in Political Science and minors in Health Care Management and Economics and has a vested interest in health care and education. He has a lot of fun stories from his travels all over the world, and is looking to increase his perspective on this trip to a region that he has never visited. He's also a great chef with plenty of obscure references on pop culture and quality taste in the hip hop genre.
Will Grant, Educator Retreat Facilitator
Will was the co-founder and Executive Director for 10 years of BLAST, a multicultural organization that developed networks of leaders from marginalized communities to democratize education and social service systems in New Mexico. He was the national trainer for VALUE, developing democratic education systems in 10 states. He just left a gig on the other side of the class divide, working at a progressive High School to teach the children of privilege how to use their social position to design a world that integrates environmental regeneration, multiculturalism and participatory democracy. He co-created several place-based classes with his students to take their education from theory to action in the world. His current project is the Pungwe, a yearly gathering of change makers to integrate our work in ecology, the arts, law, education, spirituality, healing, and body-mind consciousness to develop alternative systems and culture to make the world just, beautiful and a lot more fun. For more information, you can check Will out at pungwe.org
Tom Wilson, Student Expedition Logistics Director and Teacher
Tom is currently Program Coordinator in the Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning at the University of Vermont, where he is also completing a Master's degree in education. A Seattle native and Colby College graduate, Tom has taught in a number of different capacities: as an English teacher in Japanese public high schools, leading a bicycle trip for an education-based NGO in Cambodia, coaching high school sports, as part of a service-learning course in rural Costa Rica, and directing after school programs in Vermont. Additionally, he spent several years at the Institute for Sustainable Communities, served on the DREAM Program board, worked with Spectrum Youth & Family Services, and on organic farms in Vermont, New Zealand, and Colombia. When not seeking out new classrooms, Tom is most likely eating something delicious; hiking, biking, kayaking or otherwise playing outside; caring too much about distant sports outcomes; listening to live music; or eating again.
Sara Hirsch, Student Expedition Academic Director and Teacher
Hirsch has taught natural science and leadership at the Outdoor Academy, the Chewonki Foundation, Outward Bound, and Boomerang, an alternative to suspension program. She graduated from Wesleyan University, and holds an MS in Environmental Science from Antioch University New England. In 2014, Hirsch returned to her home state of North Carolina to pursue a degree in Social Work Counseling, so that she could continue listening to young people tell their stories. She is a big fan of bike commutes, vernal pools, and Bananagrams.
Roi Kawai, Educator Retreat Facilitator
For seven years Roi taught seventh and eighth grade at a public middle school in Illinois. During his tenure, he taught American History, language arts, reading, algebra, and served as a curriculum writer and head of the school’s socioemotional curriculum. Roi also spent three summers teaching classes on political engagement and social change to middle/high school students in Chicago and currently serves as an instructional coach to pre-service middle school teachers who teach students from diverse contexts in Boston. He holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign; an Ed. M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State University. Starting August of 2015, he will be an assistant professor in urban and multicultural education at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse. He spends much of his time desperately trying to replicate his mom's Japanese cooking in the kitchen, lap swimming, and brainstorming how to get his cat to stop attacking his feet while he sleeps.
Claire Hirschmann, Co-Founder, Student Expedition Teacher, and Educator Retreat Facilitator
Before co-founding the Field Academy with Jen and Heather, Claire was the Academic Program Director at the Traveling School, and she has led over 100 high school students on academic, adventure, and service trips in southern Africa, South America, Australia, and the United States. Claire holds a B.A from Yale University, and Ed.M. from Harvard University's School of Education. She also studied citizenship and civic theory at the Tufts Summer Institute of Civic Studies. She recently completed Goucher College's Post-Baccalaureate pre-medical program and is in the process of applying to medical schools. She is devoted to etymology, crossword puzzles, roaming the outdoors, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and trying to become a polymath.
Laura Nunez, Summer Field Intern
Laura was a student on the first Field Academy trip in the 2011. Originally from California, she recently completed her sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is majoring in International Relations and East Asian Civilization and Language, with a minor in International Development and Human Rights. Her many experiences with field-based education, including with the Field Academy, have empowered her to follow her passions for international development and education and find opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. She has provided mentoring and tutoring services in Seoul, Korea, in a battered women’s shelter in Philadelphia, and to first-graders in West Philadelphia. She is excited to support Field Academy students to develop practical ways to proactively work towards their personal and academic goals and to encourage community even after the summer ends.
Matthew Smith, History Teacher
Matthew is a proud Alabama native with a passion for working with young people and a fullhearted belief in the healing power of laughter. In recent years, he has worked as a Field Instructor for a wilderness therapy program in the mountains of Georgia, served as co-director for a social justice leadership camp in central Alabama, and traveled across the Pacific Ocean to work on a farm in Hawaii. While in college, Matthew also served as an AmeriCorps member and traveled to local schools to facilitate discussions on dating violence prevention and crisis management. In his free time, he enjoys digging in the garden, exploring the great outdoors, and working on renovations to the hundred year old mountain top bungalow that he calls home.
Marit Wilson, Writing Teacher
Marit graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a B.A. in Literature and Dance. She taught English at the Buxton School in Williamstown, MA, where she began to understand education as a process of asking real questions, taking risks, being confused, and never achieving a fixed answer (and ice cream on a hard day!). Marit is a certified yoga teacher and has created yoga programming and curriculum in schools, non-profits, and small rural communities around New England. She has spent time on islands, farms, and other remote communities. She likes to grow food, conduct experiments in fermentation, and wear second hand clothes that look like they could be her grandmother's (and often are!). She strives to experience the world through a warm heart and strong connection to physicality.
Paddy Foran, 2013 Student Expedition Teacher
Paddy teaches history and philosophy at The White Mountain School in Bethlehem, NH. During our first expedition, he joined us as a guest teacher as we backpacked through Appalachian Mountain Range in NH – the mountains that Paddy currently calls home. In addition to full time teaching, he supervises a dorm at White Mountain, coaches soccer and back country skiing, and works in the school's counseling program. Before coming to New Hampshire, Paddy taught history at a public charter school in Washington D.C., Whether he’s teaching Leave No Trace principles in the wilderness or designing a class on the modern history of terrorism, Paddy throws himself into his work and what he’s learning. Paddy also loves skiing, whitewater kayaking, and sharing adventures with his dog.
Claire Samuel, 2011 Student Expedition Teacher
Claire (or Sammy to some of the Field Academy alumni) believes strongly in something a friend said years ago about tidepools: the longer you look, the more you'll see. She thinks that applies to much more than tidepools. Claire taught environmental and field science at education centers in the Pacific Northwest, and now lives in Vermont where she has taught with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, worked in historic architectural restoration, and grown plants with local nurseries. When not at work, you might find her digging around in the backyard, dreaming about digging around in the backyard, making ceramic mugs and bowls, being obsessive about word choice, or eating with dear friends.
The Board of Directors
Nyrobi Tyson, Board Chair
Nyrobi attended the Field Academy's 2011 pilot student program in New England. Her experience with the Field Academy transformed the way she thinks about education and played a major role in developing her critical thinking skills. Her facilitation experience includes working with Youth Empowered Solutions, a nonprofit which uses peer-to-peer education to prevent youth tobacco use, and co-facilitating the Field Academy's pilot Educator retreat in 2014. She worked with City Year in San Antonio and completed her first year of college at Oberlin in Oberlin, OH. Nyrobi grew up in Etowah, NC, in a single parent home with three brothers, two of whom are twins. She loves horseback riding, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Duke Basketball, and the color blue. Nyrobi has also taught Field Academy student and educator programs. Most recently she was the History teacher on the 2016 summer Central Appalachia expedition.
Christine Jaballas, Board Member
Christine was one of the Field Academy's first students; she attended 2011 pilot student program in New England where she learned the value of communities and importance of education. Her experiences with the Field Academy since then have influenced her to study abroad in Santiago, Chile, join a Global Brigades Public Health and Water trip to empower communities in Ghana, and work at a daycare center in an impoverished neighbor in Chile. She is thrilled to join us again as a member of our board of directors. Christine is currently attending Loyola University where she studies Political Science, Spanish Language and Literature, and International Studies. She loves art museums, fluffy sea otters (what's not to like!!), eating spicy and ethnic foods, as well as laughing boisterously at corny jokes.
Annie Moore, Board Member
Annie was a visual effects and motion graphics production manager in New York City before she relocated to New Orleans to lead volunteer groups of all ages on residential construction sites. She returned to the Northeast for graduate school, during which she worked with the consulting team at Third Sector New England, and helped the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services design and implement a program to help youth discharging from the juvenile justice system transition successfully back to their home communities. She holds a B.A. from Williams College and an M.B.A. in Nonprofit Management and Master of Public Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University. Annie likes working with her hands, from harvesting veggies at her girlfriend's farm to constructing mini cardboard chairs for toddlers.
Deirdre Healy, Board Member
Deirdre's daughter, Gabrielle, was one of the Field Academy's very first students and their family has been an incredible source of encouragement and strength for the Field Academy ever since. Deirdre is the Director of Community Service and Partnerships at UMass Dartmouth and has extensive experience supporting experiential and community-based learning. Starting as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic, Deirdre has held various positions with the Peace Corps and Corporation for National and Community Service before joining the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.