Intrepid Academy at Hale

Intrepid Academy at Hale (IAH) is a joint venture of Hale and Boston Public Schools (BPS). Designed by an advisory group of experienced educators from public, private, and charter education organizations, and with the support of BPS superintendent Tommy Chang, this new semester school provides accessible outdoor learning opportunities on Hale’s 1,137-acre campus. Its innovative approach leverages the curricular expertise of BPS classroom teachers and the pedagogical expertise of Hale’s outdoor educators. Together, they combine exercise, nature, and rigorous academics to expand minds and transform lives.

What helped today was the silence of the forest. Nothing loud, nothing lasting…just quiet. ― Andrez, Student, Spring 2018

Each semester, Hale challenges a cohort of high school juniors to:

  • Look deep. IAH blends traditional academics with experiential learning projects, pushing students to ask questions, test new ideas, and develop a deeper understanding of the natural world and themselves. Every day is rich with physical and mental activity.
  • Be bold. Challenging the boundaries of their comfort zones, IAH breaks down the walls of the classroom, bringing the students to the experience, rather than bringing stories of experience to them. Hale has a remarkable assortment of natural and man-made challenges across its wilderness campus.
  • Think big. At the end of their semester, IAH students leave with an expanded sense of the world and their place in it. Students who come to IAH take their experiences back to their more traditional schools with a new focus on what education and learning can mean for them.

IAH nurtures body and mind, inspires passion and curiosity, and prepares students for success in academia and life. Students return to their schools and communities with a determined spirit.

The IAH Experience

Bus time doubles as academic time. During their commute to and from Hale, students prepare for the day's activities, discuss current events, and reflect on what they've learned.

Hale's campus is unique: students can explore 1,137 acres, 20 miles of trails, four ponds, three year-round lodges, and two challenge courses.
Students build community as they participate in small group advisory sessions, share ownership of everyday tasks, and work with one another throughout the day.

The humanities come alive at Hale as students explore the relationship between people, current events, history, culture, and the environment.

Fitness Lab encourages students to take control of their health as they enjoy the benefits of outdoor exercise, alleviate stress, and improve concentration.
Ecochemistry affords students opportunities to rigorously study Hale's biota as they examine the health of its ponds, life cycles of its forests, and more.

Technology isn't rejected at Hale, but it doesn't take center stage, either. Students use laptops, fitness trackers, and other devices to enhance their understanding of the world.

Physical and mental challenges are carefully integrated throughout the curriculum. These challenges complement lessons students learn in the classroom.

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Curricular Rationale

Our experiential curriculum is rigorous and interdisciplinary. It focuses on promoting ownership of one’s education so that students determine for themselves how they will engage with the world around them. It helps them understand how their minds and bodies are connected, and it encourages them to consider the relationships that exist between health, happiness, and success.

Why Exercise? Everyone knows that exercise is good for physical health, but research suggests exercise is even better for the brain. Every school that has implemented regular daily exercise has seen its standardized test scores rise and its disciplinary problems fall.

Why Nature? There is a nature gap in this country. A recent study found that three out of every four urban children spend less time outdoors than what is required by law for prison inmates. Other scientific studies show that exposure to nature is good for the brain and significantly reduces stress levels.

Why Rigor? When our students go to college, they compete against students from exam schools, elite private schools, and highly resourced suburban schools. Our students deserve to be as rigorously challenged as their peers.

Why Humanities? Great inequalities exist in the United States and around the world, and we must understand them if we are to address them. Why are some people and nations wealthier and more advanced than others? Why do some societies technologically progress while others lag? How do cultural politics affect all of this? Our curriculum will explore these questions and equip students to reach their own conclusions.

Why Ecochemistry? We believe Chemistry is best studied where it matters most: in the world around us. We use Hale’s 1,137 acres of natural woodlands, ponds, lakes, and marshes to teach the subject. Among other topics, students study what has been dubbed “the hidden life of trees” and how they chemically communicate for the forest’s well-being.

Support and Sponsorship

Corporate & Foundation Support

Arcadia Charitable Trust
Barr Foundation
Boston After School & Beyond
Massachusetts Charitable Society
Mass Networks Education Partnership
Needham Bank
Highland Street Foundation

Hunt Street Fund
Barney Katzman Foundation
Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation

Learn More

Faculty and Staff
Design Team
Sending Schools