Will Camp is the Coordinator of Field Experiences for the Fort Lewis College Teacher Education Department, where he works closely with regional schools to help connect college students to classrooms. With a BA from Washington College and an MAT from Brown University, Will has taught in Austria, Italy and the US. Will's enthusiasm for progressive, student-centered education is infectious, and we're ever so lucky to have him as a member of our Design Advisory Group.
What is it about Animas High School that inspires you as an educator? More or less everything. Primarily, or first to be mentioned: the rich tone I find in the hallways, classrooms and offices every time I visit. This sensibility combines intellectual rigor, sophisticated humor, erudition, inquiry and authenticity. AHS is a place that rejects the atmospherics of over-bureaucratized public school--with its stressed and stress-making emphasis on policy, alignments (of all sorts: standards, curriculum, student conduct, etc.), chronocentric psychopathology, and other dysfunctional oddments of the yet-dominant industrial school model. You take daily care there to consciously create curiosity; you seem very mindful of the way the place “feels” to students, teachers, and visitors. It’s a sort of physics of intellection.
Next, what’s rich and generative for me as a teacher-educator is the creative amalgamation of all the relevant alphabet-acronymed influences there are in place in the curriculum: the EL-, SEL-, HTH-, and PBL- informed practices which don’t have their origins in mainstream, tradition-bound pedagogy. Students and teachers are expected and positively encouraged to think anew. Visiting, I feel challenged to do that myself. I feel self-consciously called to think and am energized in ways that remind me of college and graduate school.
Lastly—and in no way least—I’m inspired by the faculty, many of whom have completed our programs, all of whom I find wonderful minds. Teachers and staff at AHS do not drain one of energy, but just the opposite. It’s a jolt of mind-vitamins, being in their presence.
How do you see AHS positively impacting our community? My former colleague, great friend and mentor Dr. Gene Taylor used to read this Richard Brautigan poem to his students at the beginning of selected semesters:
I’ll affect you slowly
as if you were having a picnic in a dream.
There will be no ants.
It won’t rain.
AHS has affected SW Colorado like a picnic in a dream. It's delightful how the relationship has been bi-directional. I think the years and years you've spent opening your doors and keeping them open, welcoming the community in for visits, tours and exhibitions, has greatly de-mystified progressive education. You send students out to their work-based learning sites, research and field trips and the energy moves the other way. The thermodynamics of education, the heat-transfer (so to speak), has been vivifying. So many of us who went to or worked in schools that simply drain energy, kill souls, darken minds, are very sensitive to these kinetics.
What's most exciting to you about AHS building our permanent campus at Fort Lewis College? Many of us in the Teacher Education Department at Fort Lewis have longed to have more and more "school pupil age" students up on, or near campus. Over a decade ago, the College built the Campbell Child Care center for "little ones". Now, it'll be a fine thing to have secondary students near. We partner with the Campbell Center in low-impact, but very meaningful ways, and hope to do so with AHS.
What are your hopes for our permanent home? That it be a beautiful, inviting, light-filled space. That it not feel like a "factory model" high school such as I attended (built to look like a factory, built to produce factory workers). That it acknowledges in its very design the land it sits on and that land's geological and cultural history.
Where do you envision AHS in 10 years? If I may think big? (Thinking big is something that’s encouraged at AHS): 1. You’ll be maxed out in enrollment. 2. Your student population will be mind-blowingly diverse, one that reflects the linguistic and cultural richness of this area and region. 3. You’ll adapt pedagogy that opens itself up to indigenous models once developed in places like Dine College in Tsaile, AZ and now underway elsewhere like Navajo Prep in Farmington—such models can be integrated with all the others I celebrate above, and indigenous languages could be taught and spoken. 4) You’ll have all the money you deserve—funds for resources, trip scholarships for students, insane and eye-brow raising salaries for teachers and staff...