Emilia Whippie '11
"A lot of learning happened in a really fun way," says Emilia Whippie about her geography coursework at Keene State College. "The classes I took were all experiential. I went places. I saw things. I did things."
Whippie, who graduated in 2011 with a BA in Social Sciences and a BS in Education, now brings the same philosophy of teaching to Nelson Elementary School in New Hampshire, where she teaches fifth and sixth grade.
"I like either bringing students to the place we're learning about or bringing that place to them."
Whippie took great advantage of KSC's field studies courses. As a sophomore, she studied the physical and cultural geography of Ecuador and visited there with classmates during her spring semester. The group brought school supplies to an orphanage and helped paint a school. She loved interacting with the children, who were excited to talk and play with their visitors.
"The piece I like best about geography is the human connection. I like the land forms and the physical features, but I like people."
Her senior year, she took the Desert Southwest Field Course and studied the diverse geographies of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The class visited places such as the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde National Park, where the ancestral Puebloans lived. She kept a blog of her adventures for the 6th grade students she was student teaching, and now uses that same blog to teach her students in Nelson.
Being able to show the children these places allows them to imagine themselves someday exploring the same places as their teacher.
"My class has really become attached to social studies and geography in a way that they didn't think they would be when they came into my class."