Stevenson is committed to providing inspiring and enriching professional development experiences to its teachers. Over the years, many donors have stepped forward to make both annual and endowment gifts to fund this important commitment to our educators. This past year, the Grover Wickersham family donated $60,000 to increase the allocations provided by the Eric Wickersham ’02 Fund this year. This allowed nine faculty and their families to travel and learn together last summer. Ron Provost, a long-time science and astronomy teacher in our newly re-vamped, transdisciplinary STEM department, benefited from his gift by taking a recent trip to Iceland.
In October, Mr. Provost flew to Iceland to observe the Aurora Borealis alongside other astronomy and science buffs on an official Sky and Telescope Magazine Tour. As he writes, “I have taught about solar storms and their impact on the Earth’s atmosphere for a long time, but I had never been able to experience the Aurora, since it only occurs at northern latitudes.”
Mr. Provost reports that seeing the Aurora Borealis was a once-in-a-lifetime event. “We had three clear nights out of six and a surprise solar storm the second night, which led to a spectacular auroral display!” In addition, he and his family experienced the stark Icelandic geology, visiting where the North American and European tectonic plates meet, while also seeing myriad volcanic sites, glaciers, and geysers. As part of a busy itinerary, he also visited a beluga whale recovery center, sites of primary succession, a hydroponic farm, and the largest geothermal plant in Iceland, which he says “gets 100% of its non-transportation energy from renewable sources. Even the ferries that carry buses and cars are electric. These experiences and photographs will be useful in our 9th-grade unit on energy resources this spring.”
Seeing a teacher’s enrichment experience directly inspire his classroom is part of what makes Stevenson a truly special place. It is a testament to the culture of curiosity and lifelong learning that the School cultivates. And it is a testament to the incredible generosity of the Wickersham family for their unwavering support for faculty enrichment. As Mr. Provost notes, “These Icelandic observations and connections have left me energized for my continued teaching at Stevenson, and it would not have been possible without the support of the Eric Wickersham ’02 Fund.”