SARAH WHITTEN HAYSLIP
passionate teacher * sometimey writer * quick thinker * incessant reader* haphazard chef
I grew up outside Richmond, Virginia, but began traveling as soon as I was able to other parts of the country and the world. I finished high school a year early, then did some coursework and some exploring in France and around the northeast before identifying Hampshire College as the place I wanted to pursue an authentic, individualized post-secondary education.
Hampshire's project-based, interdisciplinary model is unique and powerful, giving students access to opportunities and resources and encouraging them to design their studies around their own visions and goals. My self-designed major combined writing, environmental studies, and education theory and practice. My thesis, a project entitled "Groundwork: Adventures in Farm Based Education," documented and reflected on my internships and observations in seven farm centered schools and youth programs around the country, as well as on the conference of northeastern farm educators I organized and led at the end of my final fall semester. The project pulled from my fieldwork, research, readings and coursework to explore the ways that farms and gardens can create depth and purpose in the secondary school experience. I drew my conclusions and created a mission statement, funding plan and charter proposal for my own farm-based secondary school based on the strongest elements of the programs I worked in and studied.
After a year of work and travel, I came back to the Pioneer Valley and earned my teacher licensure and MEd in a one-year intensive program through the University of Massachusetts, living in Northampton and teaching high school English in Springfield. That year gave me an invaluable body of practical knowledge and informed every part of my teaching practices and worldview.
I then embarked on a one-year experiment in rural tropical living and teaching at Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the island of Hawaii, having never been to the islands or taught in a private school environment. One year became thirteen, the island became my home, and my work at HPA became the first major phase of my career.
Jordan, whom I met my first week on campus and married in 2009, and I lived in our plantation cottage near the town of Honoka'a, teaching (Studio Art and English, respectively) at HPA and spending the free time we had enjoying the humid technicolor beauty of the Hamakua coast. We moved onto the school's campus in Waimea, in the foothills of Mauna Kea, when our first son was a year old. We welcomed our second son on the last day of classes in the spring of 2014.
At HPA I taught AP Composition and several senior electives of my own design, including Honors and regular level Creative Writing, Modern Creative Nonfiction, Feminist Literature, and The 21st Century Novel, as well as many years of both honors and regular level 9th grade survey courses. In 2016 I launched an ambitious interdisciplinary capstone course for seniors called Food, Farming and Social Change, comprised of a semester-long seminar and a semester of intensive guided project work in addition to my English department courses. In the course of my career there, I also spent six seasons co-coaching and building a dynamic, empowering state championship women's cross country program, revived, renamed and ran the school's art and literature magazine, Zephyr, for over a decade, and served as an academic advisor, counselor and advocate from 9th through 12th grade for three rounds of wonderful advisees.
In the spring of 2018, we realized that we had outgrown the small environment of our isolated boarding school, and though we will always love the Big Island's landscape and spirit, we needed the educational opportunities and cultural and intellectual life of a more populated, less remote home, particularly with our children at and approaching school age. We were drawn back to Amherst (Jordan is a graduate of Amherst College, though we never crossed paths until we met teaching in Hawaii) by the vibrant academic environment, the good friends we have here, and the unique combination of beautiful landscapes with the diverse, progressive, culturally rich atmosphere fostered by the five colleges.