Intrepid Academy at Hale

Intrepid Academy at Hale (IAH) has been designed by an advisory group of experienced educators from public, private, and charter education organizations.  This new semester school provides accessible outdoor learning opportunities on Hale’s 1,137-acre campus. Its innovative approach leverages the curricular expertise of classroom teachers and the pedagogical expertise of Hale’s outdoor educators. Together, they combine exercise, nature, and rigorous, personalized academics to expand minds and transform lives. A pilot semester during the spring of 2018 produced a number of positive learning outcomes and informed continued planning, revision, and updates. The next iteration of IAH is expected to launch in 2019.

What helped today was the silence of the forest. Nothing loud, nothing lasting. Just quiet.

Each semester, Hale challenges a cohort of high school students 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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Student FAQs

How do I get there?

Transportation is provided either from the sending school or from a local MBTA station.

How long is the school day?

The school day begins approximately at 8:30 AM and ends at 3:30 PM.  The specifics are developed in collaboration with our partners school(s).

Is there food?

Breakfast snacks are available each morning, and a hot lunch is provided daily. Fruit is always available for healthy snacking.

Will I have homework?

Yes. IAH is very different from traditional school in many ways, but it is still school, and there is assigned homework.

It says physical activity is involved, but I’m not in good physical shape. Is that okay?

Yes. IAH tailors activities to participants. Everyone is active at whatever level is most appropriate to their physical condition.

Do I need special clothing or equipment?

No. Plan to wear comfortable clothes that allow you to be moderately active. IAH provides winter coats, rain gear, and boots. If needed, hats and gloves are available during colder months.

Curricular Rationale

Our experiential curriculum is rigorous, personalized, 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.  The curriculum meets all state standards for math, science, and humanities.

Being at places like Intrepid helps you get in touch with nature which opens your mind up to so much. You literally will have no worries if you go on a nice run or bike ride at Hale.

Why focus on 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 focus on 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 be rigorous and personalized? It is important for students to have academics that prepare them for the challenges of college and career.  To do this, we work with student to identify their interests and to dive into learning what matters to them.  We are focused on students developing the skills needed to learn, explore and be engaged.

Learn More


IAH calls Hale’s 1,137 acres home. The site provides ample space that meets the academic, social, emotional, and health needs of the school’s students. It also blurs the line between traditional and outdoor classrooms as students spend significant time exploring the natural world every day.

Faculty and Staff

Our faculty and staff consist of core academic teachers, outdoor instructors, and adjunct subject specialists.

Dylan Gschwind | Lead Outdoor Guide
Chicago native and public school alumnus Dylan Gschwind discovered his passion for outdoor education after graduating from college. Professionally, he worked at several expeditionary schools and led outdoor trips in California, winter backcountry expeditions in Colorado, and extended backpacking excursions in the European Alps. As IAH’s Lead Outdoor Guide, Dylan is thrilled to share his love of the outdoors with students from Boston Public Schools as he helps them step out of their comfort zones, overcome challenges, and form strong communities. Dylan earned his B.A. in Mathematics from Pomona College. He is certified in Wilderness First Response (NOLS) and Mental Health First Aid (American Red Cross).

Jerry Howland | Program Director
A seasoned teacher and administrator, Boston Latin alumnus Jerry Howland began his career as a classroom teacher and athletic coach in Boston Public Schools. During his four decades of service he taught world history, coached basketball and mock trial teams, led numerous travel study programs, and was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 1995. He retired as headmaster of Another Course to College in 2007, subsequently served as interim headmaster of Boston Latin, and assumed leadership of IAH in 2017. He’s excited to introduce inner city students to rigorous academics and physical exercise in nature. Jerry earned his B.S. in Math and Economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, his Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and his J.D. from Suffolk Law School.

Sydney Howland | Outdoor Guide
Boston native Sydney Howland has been an avid fan of hiking, biking, camping, and farming since she was a child. She previously worked as a therapeutic mentor with children who had a range of social and emotional disabilities. She’s excited to share her love of the outdoors as she advises students at IAH. Sydney earned her B.S. in Psychology from Boston University. She is certified in CPR and First Aid (American Red Cross).

Geidy Romero | Outdoor Guide
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Boston, Geidy Romero’s professional experience in social work sparked her interest in working with youth. That, combined with her passion for the environment, exercise, and travel, makes her role as an Outdoor Guide for IAH a natural fit. Geidy earned her B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Design Team

A talented and committed group of educators and professionals volunteered to design IAH. They met many times over several years and provided guidance and direction regarding the school’s concept. The design team has since evolved and is now the school’s advisory team. Members include Jennifer Antonucci (Director of Professional Development, Teachers21), Spencer Blasdale (Executive Director, Academy of the Pacific Rim), Bill Chamberlin (Retired Business Manager, Noble and Greenough School), Alexandra Oliver Davila (Executive Director, Sociedad Latina, Boston School Committee Member), Phil Jackson (Boston After School & Beyond), Emily Parks (Superintendent, Westwood Public Schools), Joe McConaughy (EF Education First and world record holder for the fastest unsupported thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail).

Sending Schools

If you would like to learn how your school can become an IAH sending school, please contact Executive Director Eric Arnold.


During its pilot phase, students from sending schools attend IAH tuition-free; sending schools and private philanthropy cover the expenses. If your student is not from one of our sending schools, please reach out to program director Jerry Howland to discuss admission and tuition.


If you have questions, please reach out to program director Jerry Howland.

Support and Sponsorship

Corporate & Foundation Support

Arcadia Charitable Trust
Barr Foundation
Boston After School & Beyond
Highland Street Foundation
Hunt Street Fund
Barney Katzman Foundation
Massachusetts Charitable Society
Mass Networks Education Partnership
Needham Bank
Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation
Yawkey Foundations