Exeter for Educators Testimonials

A testimonial would not do the experience justice. The conference was truly inspiring and I look forward to figuring ways to put as much of the experience into practice as I can.

Writers’ Workshop

The opportunity to work closely with writers and educators of varied backgrounds and to share ideas using the Harkness method was invaluable. I feel very fortunate to have been in the company of talented and gracious writers and educators, to push myself in both endeavors, and to feed my soul. Thank you, Exeter for Educators!

— Moujan Walkow, Corona del Mar, CA


The Writing Workshop was a phenomenal experience. Mercy is the person everyone needs to inspire the inner writer in all of us. The campus was a perfect backdrop to an amazing conference where educators were able to connect and collide their worlds with innovation, imagination, and much more.

— Patricia Vertucci, Poughkeepsie Scholarship Fund, Poughkeepsie, NY


I loved Mercy and her approach to teaching, writing, and developing community. Tim was amazing and I loved what Jennifer from The Moth offered. I think with a quality instruction like this, there is little content to complain about. They forced thought and stretched creativity in such brilliant and supportive ways!!

— Devin Bradley, Grass Valley, CA


I learned some wonderful prompts and pre-writing techniques that I plan to implement next year. The story telling half of the conference was amazing. Jennifer (Hixson) was fantastic. Mercy was an incredible facilitator and teacher. She provided us with safety and space to be vulnerable and stretch ourselves.

— Sara Buchter, Poughkeepsie Scholarship Fund, Poughkeepsie, NY


This was an incredible experience that allowed me to grow as a writer and an educator. I feel privileged to have attended this workshop. It was a wonderful group of people full of heart. Thank you!

— Kathleen Haberstock, Oakland, ME


I am inspired to approach writing with more creative writing within the classroom walls. Typically, the courses I teach do not have the time to introduce creative writing; however, I am inspired (after this fabulous conference). I say hoorah for the mental health of our young people who will soon be our leaders. Fabulous Conference! Thank you Mercy, you created a safe and sacred workshop in order for vulnerability to reign as King!

— Diann Marley, Bentham, TX


I am so glad I signed up for and was able to attend the writers' workshop. I left feeling inspired to write more and to get my students writing more. It was such a thought-provoking, generative, exhausting (in a good way), fulfilling week. Thank you to everyone involved in making it happen!

— Akemi Ueda, Somerville, MA

Biology Institute

My practice has advanced at least one decade by attending this conference. It has been the most transformative week I have experienced in my professional life. I will be back!

— Brianna Cotter, The Meadow School, Las Vegas, NV


The energy of having so many educators around a table and being able to discuss experiences is one in a million. I truly cherish that time and am leaving more validated and energized to try so many great ideas I have learned from the leaders and from fellow conference participants.

— Steven Whitt, Concord, MA


Tanea and Kate did an amazing job of balancing learning for us as students and educators. Giving us time to see both sides of Harkness. Resources for lessons on DEI were especially appreciated as there is limited PD for DEI in a science classroom.

— Laura Christiansen, Kents Hill, ME

The Harkness discussions were very informative. The facilitators were knowledgeable about the subject matter. They guided the discussions and field trips so that all were able to contribute and network. I am leaving with a wealth of knowledge and support.

— Makonnen Rice, Exeter for Educators Scholarship, Toledo, OH


My experience at the Biology Institute will surely impact all future teaching I do. At first I was nervous about being around so many people with more experience with these topics than me, but I left feeling supported, connected, inspired, and confident. I have never been in a community that is so committed to learning from each other, so welcoming to whatever backgrounds we bring, and so committed to thinking deeply and critically about our teaching practices. The facilitators were amazing, but I also learned something real from every single participant in my group. It was an empowering, engaging, and fun week.

— Amelia Goldstein, Poughkeepsie, NY


The camaraderie of the small group, the guidance provided by the instructors, as we - the participants - learned useful strategies for implementing Harkness methodology in our own classrooms was invaluable. It was low-key/low pressure yet required thoughtful attention to the activities at hand as we modeled being the student in various situations. The structure of the workshop enabled us to explore both being the 'student' as well as being the 'teacher' in various scenarios set up by the group leaders. Having been to a LOT of PD in my nearly 30 years of teaching, I was impressed by how much I learned in the 5 days of the workshop and how I feel much more confident in implementing many of the activities in my own classroom while using new found language of how to ask thoughtful questions that allow students to show their thinking while encouraging them to 'dig deeper' in their own learning. A really valuable PD workshop!

— Elisabeth Merrill, Dobbs Ferry, NY


I loved that we got real hands-on experience as students so we could experience how students would react to the content. I loved the abundance of resources I have. They were so willing to give us stuff. I learned so much through modeling and am excited to try harkness in my classroom.

— Juliana Salcedo, Ashborn, VA


I was not familiar with the Harkness approach, so this week has been very enlightening for my practice on how to really incorporate students into the conversation of learning and creating learning together, rather than to just be recipients of information from the instructor.

— Deyna Roebuck, Brattleboro, VT


Taking part in the Summer Institute at Exeter was an incredible experience. Being surrounded by educators who inspired me and provided me with tools was priceless. I am beyond excited to return to my school and introduce others to what I have learned this week!

— Jennifer Anthony, Aston, PA


I came here feeling a little burnt out and am leaving feeling excited about the new year. In my binder, I now have so many lessons to incorporate dialogue in the classroom and ways to incorporate social justice in ecology. I feel quite confident in my ability to facilitate more discussions and to be ok with the wait time.

— Alison Eisert, Grandview Heights, OH


The Biology Institute at Exeter will immediately impact my pedagogy at the start of the coming school year by giving me next-day strategies and resources to strengthen my craft. Exposure to Harkness pedagogy will allow me to be more student-centered, and the fact that we experienced lessons that were embedded within the discipline gives me the pedagogical content knowledge that I need to level up my pedagogy. My toolkit has grown immensely as a result of this experience, as has my network of like- minded professionals in my content area.

— Joe Wagner, Blairstown, NJ


I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to partake in this conference. I learned so many valuable tools and techniques and I feel that I also have concrete activities that I plan on implementing in all my classes next year. I believe this conference will have a profound impact on my teaching practice.

— Michele Sprague, Blacksburg, VA

Exeter Diversity Leadership Institute

If you are working with students you need this new lexicon! The course is invaluable. DEI work is challenging in a variety of ways. Having the opportunity to collaborate and learn alongside other DEI practitioners in a brave space allowed for deeper learning, gains in confidence, and appreciation for my fellow practitioners. The network I am walking away from Exeter with will enable me to be a stronger, more productive, and more cared-for DEI practitioner. EDLI has given me more tools, strengthened my skills, and inspired me to continue this never-ending work.

— Jacquelyne Weatherspoon, Exeter, NH


The EDLI was an incredible immersion into the work that schools do around DEI. The curated reading and resources were thoughtful and relevant, and I will revisit many of them once I return home.

— Christian Cauthon, Centerton, AR


I was a little bit nervous/apprehensive about attending, but Kevin and Stephanie made it a wonderfully safe and inclusive environment, and by the end of the week I had such amazing connections with the participants that it was difficult to say goodbye. I’m optimistic these connections will be long term, so I thank Stephanie, Kevin, and all of the participants of the EDLI.

— Darren Jones, Surrey, British Columbia

Environmental Literature Institute

The ELI helped me understand that environmental reading and writing are at the core  of community building. Because we all live in and are part of the natural world, it is our best gateway to knowing one another and ourselves. I am leaving with new classroom techniques, resources, and above all the core idea of reaching for learning  through joy, all of which give me a new sense of purpose for my teaching.

— Ray Falconer, South Hamilton, MA


Another wonderful thing about being an educator is that I'm willing to breathe in information and extract what I need to fit the environment that I'm working in. Education is evolving and I feel that I must, in order to stay relevant. 

— Yvette Thomas, Poughkeepsie, NY


The best, most holistic professional development I have ever attended.

— Lauren Gwin, Ann Arbor, MI


I first signed up for this conference because of the name of the program. I‚Äôm in environmental biologist, and I thought that learning about environmental literature would be interesting and I want to incorporate more literature into the class I teach. However, I learned so much more going to this conference. I learned of so many novels I could incorporate, even if they are, broken down to chapters, or even a few pages to support what I am teaching. I learned how powerful music can be when teaching a lesson. I learned there are many people even in our local communities who can share their experiences with my students of the history of their hometown or their ethnicities to support my subject areas. I just have to take the time to search them out.  I appreciate everyone for their points of view and accepting mine.

 — Nicole Altieri, Poughkeepsie, NY


The Environmental Literature Institute helped open my eyes to the plethora of resources and strategies available to support students in exploring their relationship to the planet, climate change and the responsibility we have to the Earth. My time at ELI allowed me the opportunity to reconnect to nature and opened my eyes to how I can facilitate similar experiences for my students within my discipline. The thread of positivity, appreciation and hope that was woven throughout the discussions and activities was a refreshing approach to environmental learning. I walked away feeling connected, rejuvenated and full of ideas. The instructors were welcoming, kind and knowledgeable - I would definitely recommend the experience!

— Heather Long, Poughkeepsie, NY

Anja S. Greer Conference on Mathematics and Technology

Every once in a while, we all need an infusion of good ideas, inspiration, and joy in our subject and in our profession.  I feel like I just got a shot of vitamin B12 that let me fall in love with teaching again! 


I love the conference so much; it makes me feel like a kid again playing with math and being around other people who care so much about teaching students to love math.


The benefits of being taught by a person that looks like you, a person of color, is very hard to quantify. Thank you for seeing me, and meeting my needs!


This program allowed me to feel validated as an educator and to share my experiences with people who understand. It is always fun to nerd out about math things.


I feel much more inspired to make my honors geometry class fully problem-based next year. It was amazing to see all of the different people from different schools who have had success with the method and made me confident that I can do it in my own school.


Inspired … in the Lab approach to Calculus- to listen more, to push myself out of my comfort zone and to collaborate with other math teachers. She made us feel seen and heard and engaged and I hope I can do the same for my students.


It’s the most inspiring conferences I have attended in the recent 5 years, including College Board’s.


So different from any other math conference I have ever been to. I did (and talked about) mathematics most of the day. But, the pace was slow enough that I still had time to go running, take a nap when I needed to. Definitely reinvigorates me for the coming school year! So many folks were strong in math, not the case at all math conferences.


I was inspired by the amount of teachers that are actively trying to bring math education to the 21st century, making it more relevant for our students. I was also inspired to see the openness to collaborate, and share experiences, resources and materials. I have learned about many resources and strategies that I wasn't previously aware of and that I will definitely implement in my classroom. 


What an inspiration! Sitting around the Harkness table, working on Exeter math, surrounded by colleagues from around the world ... I felt like I had been transported to an academic oasis of like minds having fun while also in service to the children we teach. So fun! So inspiring!


This was my first Math Conference, and this bootcamp really allowed me to gain skills at my speed and be around teachers that would appreciate my efforts. Highly recommend for anyone. I already know I'm a changed teacher.


This conference has unearthed the teacher in me that I yearned for as a student. I cannot wait for school to start!


The courses I chose really helped me understand what it is to make courses relevant and how to integrate DEI into my planning, lessons and assessments. After Mr. Hill and Mrs. Schenkel's courses I definitely feel a lot less intimidated and more confident to switch things up in my classroom. My teaching journey is only beginning and it is conferences like this one, where many great educating minds get together, that make me feel like I made the perfect choice when I decided to pursue education when I came out of my Master's. I was able to attend this conference with most of my colleagues from Saint John's School, Puerto Rico's mathematics department. The amount of knowledge, experiences, relationships and connections that me and my colleagues have built in this past week have made me feel like I am part of a community of nationwide educators that understand that, in order to educate, we have to be learners first!

Exeter Humanities Institute

A testimonial would not do the experience justice. Please feel free to pull from any of my comments. The conference was truly inspiring and I look forward to figuring ways to put as much of the experience into practice as I can. Thanks so much!

— Chris Colbeck, Memphis, TN


Absolutely! This was the best PD I ever attended. I wish all the colleagues at my school could attend. I really hope I can come back and attend the Humanities one again or try the DEI conference. I hope you all will continue to offer this conference for years to come. It was awesome!

— Megan Cox, Bradenton, FL   


Courtney helped me rethink annotations and consider “playing” at the table. This was a big take away!

— Suzanna Dudley, Little Rock, AR


Despite working with adolescents for close to two decades, I am fairly new to the field of teaching. To be surrounded by so many fertile minds, who not only inspired me by sharing their experiences and ideas, but validated MY approaches, ideas, and views, was an opportunity I could not have imagined when walking into Exeter for Educators on Sunday morning. During our last session on Friday, one of my colleagues commented that he had never felt more alive. While I am mentally fatigued after a week’s worth of intense critical analysis, I understand what he means. I have challenges ahead in my classroom, my school, and my district. Despite this, I do feel enlivened with the possibilities that lay ahead for introducing the Harkness method to a brand new audience.

— Andy Vlad, Carmel, NY


EHI gives me the confidence to adapt and build Harkness-style discussions in my class. The experience of being a leader, observer, and participant in different discussions allows me to really dig deep into how student-led discussions can be utilized for myriad purposes in my classroom.

— Aaron Fazzio, London, England


EHI inspired me to center trust and collaboration in my classroom. The nature of a good discussion can feel intangible and I feel much more equipped now to understand what a classroom discussion can look like and how to facilitate and foster it.

— Alyssa Northrop, Brooklyn, NY


EHI was one of the most intellectually generative and generous experiences I have had in my lifetime. I feel excited and refreshed to head into my next school year.

— Abby Seeskin, Durham, NC


Every day, I  worked through my anxiety about when to speak up and when to listen. Though it sounds simple, this was a tremendously valuable process for me. Our instructors also made this present and acknowledged their own struggles.  I felt supported through the process.

— Sally Ingram, Silverspring, MD


Harkness is all about listening to, learning from, and being vulnerable with each other. EHI gave me that opportunity with a group of truly remarkable educators. I felt so grateful every day that I got to be a part of the Harkness journey with these wonderful people. Whether you're new to Harkness or you've been practicing for years, EHI is an invaluable experience.

— Brad Miller, Underhill, VT


This week we were taught to listen to each other and lead with compassion, courage, vulnerability and humility.  Questions and confusions were valued and we are the better for it.

— Alison McElwain, Peterborough, MT


I absolutely loved the opportunity to be in an intellectual community of professional teachers learning something useful. Having the opportunity to live as a Harkness student for five days allowed me to have insights into the experience that I could not have gotten in any other way. It also was a great reminder of what it is like to be part of a discussion every day - why it is so valuable as a learning method and also how challenging it can be.

— Tanya Andrysiak, Charlotte, NC


I came to this conference having already spent 38 years teaching in  a  Harkness classroom. If you are new to the pedagogy or have limited experience this conference is invaluable. If, like me, you are already very experienced with the pedagogy it is a great way to think about your own practices and to recharge your batteries.

— Bruce Robbins, Durham, NH


I encourage educators who are curious and excited about Harkness learning to attend EHI. And I encourage educators who are skeptical about Harkness learning to attend EHI! It was the best professional/pedagogical-development experience that I've ever had. All throughout the week, as well as when I returned home, I felt challenged, supported, and energized. Taking a seat at the Harkness Table is intense, but it transformed me as a teacher. It's made me more open, more exploratory,  and more willing to extend grace--both to myself and to others. Those are traits that I want to have, and they're traits that I want my students to have. EHI offered  me the tools, resources, and support to do the hard work to help my students build themselves up as critical thinkers, readers, and writers, as well as collaborative and compassionate young people.

— Matt Rinkevich, Pottstown, PA


I feel so inspired. Based on a brief training by Exeter teachers at my previous school years ago, I thought I knew how to do Harkness, but I realized this week how much MORE I could do with it and how much I could bring back to my school. Most importantly, though, this week reaffirmed not only how well students can learn from this seemingly simply teaching method, but also how important building the skills required to do Harkness are to our world today; reading sources carefully, respectfully communicating with others, collaboration, etc. are truly the skills we need of our future. My school says that we hope students can “converse to comprehend, not convince,” and now I think even more that Harkness is the clearest and simplest way to do that in our classrooms so that our students do that in the real world.

— Kristin Roberts, Saint Louis, MO


I grew as a person through this experience. This was quite an experience living in the wild and I am grateful to have had a seat at the table. I appreciate the energy of the instructors and the trust they forged. If there is a way to continue the conversation, I would be grateful to receive updates of news related to Harkness. Thank you for your amazing work and impact on our practice! I am inspired and motivated to implement this pedagogy.

— Paul Fajardo, Miami, FL


I am leaving today, wishing I could stay for more, but knowing that my battery has been recharged. I have been reminded that I do, in fact, love to learn and therefore, I also love to teach. I can read deeply and question a text. I can get out of my comfort zone and attend a conference all by myself and meet new friends who I hope to stay in touch with. I am already thinking about what my English classes will look like in the fall. I am sure that my students will greatly benefit all year from the week that I got to spend at EHI.

— Sarah Hubert, Greenville, SC


I was inspired by the teachers that I sat across the table from each day. They showed vulnerability, bravery, and incisiveness in what was a difficult task: opening up to a group of strangers. Nearly each session offered exciting new ideas, questions, and suggestions. In a context where it may have been easy to embrace a bystander mentality, these teachers helped me refine my own teaching.

— Tyler Yoder, Solon, OH


I’m grateful to have spent a week in the company of excellent and highly skilled educators. It was a pleasure, too,  to be a student in the classes of two very experienced and skilled practitioners where “Aha” moments flowed freely. I look forward to applying the many lessons and suggestions with my own students. Thank you.

— Warren Baas Auckland, NZ


If you are at all hesitant about Harkness, there is no substitute for this Institute! 

— Ben Kwan, Surrey, BC Canada


Thank you for inspiring confidence, creativity, and the conviction that Harkness Can be adapted to meet the needs of my own school and students.

— Elsa Kunz, Bell Buckle, TN


The conference completely changed my way of thinking as a teacher. Even though Harkness seemed unobtainable for me as a teacher with large class sizes, I learned how to get student-led discussion in my classes. By taking myself out of the center of attention in my room, I can give the students the power to learn and grow more.

— Ben Davenport, Johnson City, TN


The EHI conference provides the best of experiential learning for educators. From the first session to the last, I was intellectually challenged and stimulated. As I head home, I find myself asking new questions that I would not have known I had prior to the conference, and I am excited to develop my own pedagogy in light of what I learned.

— Pamela Longo, Basking Ridge, NJ


The Humanities Institute at Phillips Exeter Academy is, by far, my favourite professional development experience in my 16 years of teaching. As a pedagogy so obviously rooted in constructivism, it was only through the experience of being a Harkness student myself—along with recursive reflective practice through discussion—that I came to develop a more comprehensive understanding of Harkness as a pedagogical framework. I left the EHI with a renewed confidence in the pedagogy and an inspired affirmation of my own competencies as a critical pedagogue and democratic educator within an actively decolonising educational context.

I also came to develop a range of professional, intellectual, and personal connections that will productively shape my continuing education and teaching practice. We were also well-fed, and I took full advantage of the fitness facilities on campus, which helped me stay energised and focussed during an intensive week! I also strongly recommend attending the various optional sessions, which were numerous and varied.

Finally, I must also acknowledge how my EHI experience was made all the more enjoyable by the leaders who so graciously offered their time, expertise, and personal selves. Several leaders had a presence beyond just the required sessions they led, and I also appreciated the nascent (if unspoken) DEI growth in the EHI that was planted by certain leaders (Courtney and Sarah) and offers a tantalizing promise for even more transformative growth for both participants and EHI leaders. If I could return for even more intensive training and co-learning, I would!

— Lusheen Beaumont, Vancouver, BC Canada


There are so many parts of the EHI experience that are transformative, but it is the emphasis on participating that makes your week truly meaningful. Sharing responsibilities - leading, observing, participating as a student at the table - all of these things immerse you in Harkness in ways that help you improve your practice.  EHI has easily been the most engaging and meaningful professional development experience in my 28 years in the classroom.

— Jim McGowan, Lakefield, NH


This conference inspired me in so many ways. Being thoughtfully engaged in this environment has encouraged me, more than ever, to create similar environments in my classroom. There is a subtle but strong expectation that you engage and work to grow as an educator during this conference that is unlike anything else. This program will make you a better educator and you will be a better leader for your students.

— Perry Harder, Surrey, BC, Canada