- Upper School
From the arctic to Saco, one teacher shares original research with his students.
Thornton Academy’s Teacher of the Year for 2019, Dan Frost, brings outside experiences into the classroom from as far away as Svalbard (near the North Pole) and the Canadian Arctic. Frost has been an educator for 13 years. Prior to joining Thornton Academy’s faculty in 2013, he taught at Carrabassett Valley Academy. Throughout his career, Frost has taught various math and science classes. This year he is instructing Honors Physical Science, Biology, and Physics.
"In college, I realized I was serving as a teacher's assistant in every geology class I could get into," science teacher Frost said, reflecting on how he traveled the path to become an educator. “I said ‘you know what, maybe there’s a reason I’m doing this,’ and I decided to go into teaching full-time.”
As an active member of the science community, Frost stays connected to research groups and conducts labs at the college level, including at his alma mater Bates College. He also creates and runs teacher workshops on how to give students hands-on learning experiences.
To enhance his teaching, Frost primarily focuses on field work in Maine and in the arctic, requiring him to travel throughout the year. His trips have brought him to many different locations all over the globe.
While away from the classroom, Frost stays connected with his students by using Thornton Academy’s 1:1 iPad program. Frost conducts video calls with his students to share his real-time research and introduce them to scientists.
“While on an expedition, I take nearly 3,000 photos per week and wear a GoPro to document what I do. It helps me complete my science research when I get home. I keep a blog and use it to tell the story. All of this makes it real for the students,” Frost said.
The impact that Frost has made on the Thornton Academy community is evident. Associate Head of Academic Marsha Snyder shared, “Dan Frost is passionate about teaching and learning, and that attitude is infectious. He engages his students by creating meaningful connections in even the driest topics. He is too humble to allow me to call him a school leader, but he is a colleague of the best sort - collaborative, encouraging, and fun.”
Frost shared his experiences with another subset of the TA community when he taught the Alumni Academy course “Unearthing Answers in Arctic Science” in 2016. Alumni spanning decades came together to dust off their science skills and have hands-on experiences with soil samples.
“I feel lucky to have a lot of field experience. I try to practice what I preach with the students. I have shared with my students that it is not always about the paycheck, but the life experience,” said Frost. “I encourage students to step outside their comfort zone to travel, learn, explore and say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as possible. Varied experiences will give you rich experiences that you will draw on personally and professionally for years to come.”
To learn more about Dan Frost’s adventures in science, follow his blog at frostinthearctic.com
Story by: Brittany Brown
Photos Courtesy of: Dan Frost