Winter Exploration: Passion, Goal Setting & Designing Your Life

When I was a teacher, I found the month of January to be one of the most challenging times of year to teach. Maybe it’s because students have been on vacation for 2 weeks, the days are cold and dark, the newness of the school year has worn off, the light at the end of the tunnel (June) is barely visible, or all of the above. Whatever the reason, it always seemed that the last thought on any student’s mind was school. I found it refreshing, although not too surprising, to learn that at One Stone, we do January differently.

Students spent their first week back from break last week not in classes but engaged in the early phases of a month-long Winter Exploration in which they will identify their passions and interests, create vision statements, learn about personal branding, and explore internship, service, employment, or job shadowing opportunities for the summer.

As part of this process, Year 1 students are reading Designing Your Life, Year 2 students, Start with Why. Both books guide readers through a process of creating a meaningful life aligned with their passions and interests. To accomplish this, students must think critically to design their learning experience, which includes identifying passions, setting goals based on those passions, and taking ownership of their learning during their Summer Experience. Going through this process, they learn to take on leadership roles, collaborate and communicate with community partners, and manage timelines and projects.

In the coming months, One Stone students will be busy writing resumes, applying for internships, and practicing interviews as they develop tools for life and design their lives according to what’s important to them. It’s a great start to living a life of purpose and intention.

The second part of January will be devoted to Deep Dives, opportunities for students to delve into studying an area of interest. This year’s options include Winter Navigation, Outdoor Livin’ and Leadership (yurt trip in the Sawtooth Mountains), Operation Abra Cadaver (anatomy lab), Come Fly with Me (Italy trip planning), Two Birds Dive Bomb (fundraiser event planning), Against the Grain (foundry woodworking), Shooting the West (conservation photography in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks), Photos that Tell a Story (yearbook), Visual Art Immersion and Resource Mapping (studio art), and Idaho Pokemon Go (coding). Stay tuned for more information on how these Deep Dives turn out!


Jane Walther is the infrastructure director at One Stone, a Boise-based, student-led nonprofit that makes students better leaders and the world a better place. Contact her at

Why not make volunteering one of your goals for 2018? One Stone welcomes community members willing to share their time and expertise with students. Get in touch!