2019 Winter Institute Speakers and Facilitators

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Facilitators

DWIGHT VIDALE Educator. Thinker. Writer. Dwight Vidale has thirteen years of experience in the classroom as an English teacher, having begun his career with Teach For America - Houston. Currently, he teaches at the Riverdale Country School, his Alma mater, where he is also the Director of Community Engagement. His office organizes and facilitates workshops centered around equity and inclusion for both the middle and high school. As a senior administrator, he also works closely with the administrative team to implement changes that support and nurture the entire community, specifically around issues of identity. Dwight is also the founder and lead organizer for the Young Men of Color Symposium, a leadership conference for young self-identified men of color in grades six through twelve in the New York City area and beyond. The day features opportunities for participants to explore their multiple identities and learn skills geared towards self-advocacy and community building. He also blogs about his experiences as a single father at livingasdaddy.com.

EMILY SCHORR LESNICK (she/her/hers) is an educator, facilitator, and theatre-maker, who splits her time between Harlem and Seattle. She is the new Social Emotional Learning Coordinator at University Prep in Seattle, WA. Before that, Emily worked at Riverdale as Upper School Director of Service Learning and Assistant Director of Community Engagement.  She is the co-creator of How We GLOW, a piece of interview theatre that explores lgbtq+ youth identity, which has been performed at over 30 schools and community spaces and serves on the Educator Advisory Committee for GLSEN. Her first ISEEN conference was in Honolulu in 2016 and it changed her life. Emily received her MA in Educational Theatre at NYU Steinhardt and her work has been featured in NAIS publications, the New Yorker magazine, NYTimes op-docs, and at the Apollo Theater.

Pre- and Post-Institute Workshop Facilitators

Purpose Learning Intensive for Experiential Educators (Tues, Jan 22 8am-2: 30 pm)

Ross Wehner, Founder, World Leadership School
After college, I spent a decade working as a journalist in Latin America during the 1990s. It was the time of cholera, hyperinflation, terrorism, and human rights abuses. My outlook on the world began to darken until I had a moment of clarity: I needed to stop reporting on problems, and instead, start looking for solutions. I had this idea to start a school that would build next-generation world leaders. That thought led me to graduate school and afterward to work as a classroom teacher and wilderness educator for NOLS before I started World Leadership School in 2007. Our mission is to partner with K-12 schools to transform learning and create next-generation leaders. As Founder, my role is to lead our innovation and change initiatives with K-12 schools and work closely with school leaders. I spend about half my time on TeachUNITED, WLS’ non-profit arm that does the same work but with underserved rural schools around the world. TeachUNITED allows us to work at a deeper level with our rural school partners and create stronger school-to-school partnerships through WLS. I live in Boulder, Colorado with my wife, Renee and our two children Francesca and Sebastian. At present, I am working with Vicki Weeks on a book project exploring the question: “How can K-12 schools help students explore, discover and articulate a sense of purpose at an earlier age?"

Siri Fiske, Founder, and Head of School, MYSA School
As founder of Mysa School an innovative group of micro-schools in the Washington DC area, I am passionate about education reform and creating learning environments that focus on the learner. I am a strong advocate for experiential learning, and I have traveled the world with groups of students experiencing with them first hand the lives of others. I have taught science and math. I have designed, launched, and nourished many programs in public schools, including arts and music programs that currently reach thousands of students in the Los Angeles area. Before moving to Washington, DC to start Mysa School, I helped design and launch a K-12 school in South Korea.  I hold a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MA in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a MAT (masters in teaching with a focus on technology) from the University of Southern California. Here are some articles I have recently published on student agency, purpose and other topics in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

Vicki Weeks, Founder, Global Weeks, ISEEN Board Chair
I have spent my entire career in global and experiential education. After many years at Lakeside School, where I designed and ran a comprehensive and progressive global education program, I started Global Weeks, which partners with schools and other organizations to incorporate meaningful experiential education into their curriculum. Now based in Seattle, Washington, I have lived and worked in many different countries, and I am passionate about transformative travel and innovative educational practices for students and educators. My study of in international education at Harvard, my connections in the independent school world, and my tenure as chair of the board of the Independent Schools Experiential Education Network, all led to my work with Ross and World Leadership School to explore purpose formation for youth.

Moving Beyond GPA: Using the Mastery Transcript to Drive Equity and Engagement (Tues, Jan 22, 9-11 am)

Patricia Russell, Chief Education Officer
Patricia Russell is an experienced teacher and was the dean of studies at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA when she joined the board of directors of the Mastery Transcript Consortium in June 2016. She subsequently served as the interim executive director and started as the chief education officer in February 2018.

Mike Flanagan, Chief Product Officer, Mastery Transcript Consortium
Mike is an experienced education technology executive including serving as CEO of the Services Division at the National Association of Independent Schools, where he led a complete redesign and relaunch of their School and Student Services financial aid platforms.

CITYterm: NYC Neighborhood Study (Tues, Jan 22, 9:30-2: 30 pm)

CITYterm Faculty
The CITYterm team is an eclectic mix of collaborative educators from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. Each faculty member joined CITYterm because they are inspired by experience-based learning, living in a tight-knit community, and New York City. CITYterm affords each faculty member the opportunity to teach in a creative, transformative environment and to learn alongside students.

This is Not a Drill: Critical Incident Response Preparedness (Fri, Jan 25, 2-5 pm)

Simon Hart, Director of School Partnerships, Where There Be Dragons, ISEEN Board Member
Nurtured by epic sailing adventures on the pristine waters of Lake Superior, Simon grew up a small town boy with an itch for discovery and exploration. After attending high schools in Mexico and Taiwan, Simon pursued studies in anthropology and development, garnering scholarships and grants to explore human-nature relationships and community-based strategies for conservation and development in Africa and Latin America.  Simon is an alumnus of SIT and has worked with Concordia Language Villages, The Center for Global Education and Carleton College to develop international experiential programming, professional training, and innovative curriculum over the past ten years. At Dragons, he has acted in different roles, from instructing courses in Guatemala to serving as Executive Program Director in Boulder. Most recently, Simon is focused on providing professional development and support to institutions pursuing global studies initiatives.  Simon is an avid cyclist, bass player, and farmer, whose personal mission is to “get people out there” to discover a deeper notion of self in relation to other. Simon speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French, is WFR certified, and has worked with Dragons since 2006.

Mark Vermeal, Senior Safety and Risk Advisor, Outdoor + Adventure Practice, FRED C. CHURCH Insurance
Mark Vermeal is a nationally recognized expert in the field of risk management and safety with 20 years of experience as a senior-level administrator in educational non-profits. As the former Vice President of Safety for Outward Bound USA, Mark drove the safety management systems for Outward Bound’s $44 M national network of eleven regional schools serving over 42,000 students and 145,000 participant days, annually. Mark has implemented strategies that have enhanced a culture and climate of safety at two of the nation’s largest outdoor organizations: OBUSA and the Student Conservation Association. As the Director of the Wilderness Skills Program at the White Mountain School, Mark developed a ground up, nationally recognized outdoor education program that integrated experiential education and wilderness skills instruction with a rigorous academic program. When working as a Wilderness EMT, Mark managed emergent situations, and with a Master’s degree in education, he has been a wilderness medicine instructor and a classroom teacher in anatomy and physiology. He is a certified American Mountain Guides Association Rock Instructor and Single Pitch Instructor Provider with rock, ice, and alpine guiding experience, both abroad and domestically. Currently, he serves on the Outward Bound International Risk Management Committee, Outward Bound Canada Board Risk Oversight Committee, the American Alpine Club Education and Standards Committee Task Force, and the Steering Committee for the Wilderness Risk Management Conference where he has also been a presenter since 2007.