Walk the Walk (And Meet Ruth!)

November 10th, 2017

At New Harmony, we believe that learning is done best by doing, and an internship is an invaluable experience. This summer, we walked the walk, and hosted an intern! Meet Ruth who details her experience this summer.

I’m a senior at Northwestern University and I interned at New Harmony because I was fascinated by their educational philosophy of “leaving to learn”. I liked that the school was focused on teaching students through the coastal environment they live in and focused on students learning based on their own interests. In high school, I would have loved to learn by exploring the wetlands near my school or the businesses in my town. The model of New Harmony makes sense to me because students who see their education as highly relevant to their individual passions are more likely to have an intrinsic motivation to learn.

My summer in New Orleans was filled with tons of learning experiences both about the process of building New Harmony and about coastal Louisiana.

A big focus on my internship was working on New Harmony’s social media and communication strategies. This project taught me how to think through a strategy, from defining objectives to figuring out specific execution steps. It also was a great way for me to understand New Harmony’s vision and the process of opening a brand new school. To effectively work on communication strategies I was able to follow the same model New Harmony students will: “leaving to learn”. In my case, in order to learn more about New Harmony’s vision I accompanied school leader Sunny Dawn Summers at certain meetings and educational excursions.

Some highlights of my summer were:

Traveling to Baton Rouge for one of the preliminary charter hearings where I learned more about how potential schools are evaluated by the state.

Watching a video filmed about New Harmony featuring Sunny Dawn Summers and Anne Ohri meanwhile the weather was shifting between rain and sun! The setting was the levee, so it was beautiful to see the skyline of New Orleans in the background and also an opportunity learn more about Hurricane Katrina’s impact.

Going out to the bayou with Sunny Dawn Summers guided by Richie Blink to see firsthand the damage that was done to the marshes and also the regeneration that is occurring. I also loved learning about the different plants and animals that make up the coastal ecosystem.

Visiting Anne Ohri’s farm in Plaquemines Parish and meeting the animals she has from goats to alpacas.

Attending the XQ Live viewing party at the Rusty Nail and seeing the national organization that funds New Harmony’s start up. It was so cool to see New Harmony highlighted a couple times during the show!

This summer increased my passion for studying education and the environment. I have enrolled in courses at my university and for my semester abroad in Copenhagen to learn more about these subjects. I’m so grateful for my experience this summer to give me a hands-on opportunity to see how schools can better serve students and the community!

I am so excited for New Harmony to open this fall and to see the all of the New Harmony team’s work pay off!

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