LEAP Gets Students Out of their Comfort Zone

Since 2017, Northwood has offered the LEAP (Learn, Engage, Apply, Perform) program. LEAP was created to get students out of a classroom setting to learn. LEAP allows students to connect with experts from fields as well as provides them with more opportunities to get out of their comfort zone. 

Before LEAP, Northwood offered a spring program in which they would take kids for 3-4 days on various adventures in the area. When Head of School Mr. Michael Maher began working for Northwood in 2015, he wanted to expand this program. He reached out to one of Northwood’s staff, Ms. Marcy Fagan, to take on this task. Maher wanted a more experiential program for students to be able to enjoy. With that in mind, Fagan then helped design the program we now know as LEAP. 

Photos from recent LEAP courses. (Photos provided)

LEAP courses do not just take place in the Lake Placid area. Some courses are held in various places around the world. Typically, LEAP is run in the spring following graduation. However, this year, due to the FISU games, Northwood has decided to run several LEAP courses in January for students who are not traveling with their sport during the extended break. The FISU games have also helped make these January courses much more affordable, allowing more students to be able to enjoy them. 

In 2017, LEAP was run for the first time. There were 11 course offerings in the first year. Since then, LEAP has expanded tremendously to 19 different courses offered this school year. 

Northwood’s original 2017 course offerings: 

  • Adirondack Farm to Table  
  • Evolution of the Contemporary Circus  
  • Backcountry Search and Rescue  
  • The Power of Water: Dams, Electricity and Rapids  
  • Green Building and Design: Building a Cordwood Cabin  
  • The Art of Fly Fishing  
  • Great Camps of The Adirondacks  
  • Chess: The Royal Game  
  • Cultural Immersion in Quebec 
  • Iceland: A Study of Geothermal Activity and Sustainability  
  • Marine Ecology in the Bahamas 

Northwood’s 2023 January LEAPs:  

  • St. Lucia Science, Culture, and Cuisine  
  • NYC Arts 
  • Conquer One of the World’s 7 Summits – Kilimanjaro 
  • FISU Games Volunteer  

 Northwood’s 2023 spring LEAPs: 

  • Adirondack Farm to Table and Culinary Experience  
  • The Modern Circus  
  • Coastal Vietnam – Sustainable Tourism, Culture, Geography and Cuisine  
  • Geothermal Sustainability in Iceland  
  • Golf – A Swing Back in Time  
  • Introduction to Woodworking  
  • Kayaking from Lake Champlain to Lake George  
  • Mountain Rescue  
  • Muskie Madness  
  • Nutrition and Athletic Performance  
  • Explore the Adirondacks  
  • Canines – Understanding Man’s Best Friend 
  • Board Game Design 
  • Teaching is Easy? Give it a Try! 
  • Fly Fishing in the Adirondacks   

This year, there are a total of seven new LEAP courses. “I am excited for all of them and grateful for the faculty for designing them,” Fagan said. 

Northwood’s most popular LEAP selection for this year is the Iceland course. Twenty Northwood students selected Iceland as their top choice.  

The Iceland course consists of students traveling to Iceland to work and stay at GeoCamp Iceland. While in Iceland, they will explore glaciers, volcanoes, lava tubes, geothermal pools, geysers, and the rift valley. Students will be able to learn more about plate tectonics, climate change and the significance of geothermal activity in Iceland.  

Each year, at the end of LEAP, Ms. Fagan sends an anonymous survey to all the students, faculty and parents involved in LEAP. Over the years, she has found that nearly all of the reviews are positive. Most students and staff would agree that they enjoyed their LEAP and would recommend it to others. Marcy Fagan concludes, “I have found LEAP to be very successful!” 


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