From the Wilderness to Williston: The Kyle Hanford Story


Credit: Williston Website

Kyle Hanford is known for his enthusiasm and excitement, but many people don’t know that those qualities, as well as his work ethic, were forged in the wilderness as much as the classroom.

Hanford works in the English department and is also the assistant coach of the Boys Varsity Ice Hockey and the Boys Junior Varsity Lacrosse teams. After school, Hanford connects with students as a dorm parents in Conant House.

Hanford started at Hobart College, but finished his English major at Ithaca in 2001. He earned Masters Degrees from Boston College and Middlebury. “I’m also working on my doctorate in aeronautical engineering at MIT during my spare time,” he joked.

After graduating from college, Hanford joined NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and spent three months in the outdoors all across the U.S. He was 23 when he went canoeing down the Green River in Utah. He then hiked in the canyons of Utah for three weeks. Experiencing the trip, in particular having to sleep in a tent under three feet of snow, really changed Hanford’s way of thinking.

“At that time, I had been doing school for 16 years and never tested myself outside of the setup of schools and athletics,” said Hanford. “Joining the trip was the best decision I have ever made.”

After the trip to Utah, Hanford also went on another adventure, this time to India for five weeks. Hanford told The Willistonian the trip showed him “that the outdoors can test you in ways that society can’t. If you can survive in the outdoors, you can survive anywhere; it gives you the skills and tools to live any place in the world.”

As he progressed through classroom jobs after college, he realized that teaching English was the most direct way to reach students.

“When we read a text, we also read about what makes us human,” said Hanford, “We learn to think about the characters, and from that we can have a better understanding of our own lives.”

Hanford also joined forces this year with Mr. Eberle, Mr. Cunningham, and Mr. Rivenburgh to start a group called “Boys to Men.” The main mission of the group is to help create good men in society. Since there are so many bad examples of how men act, Hanford wants his group to show students there are positive role models out there.

“We want to let young men know that they don’t have to be like that,” said Hanford. “They can be thoughtful and emotional, they can ask questions and not be seen as weak. I consider Williston a family and there must be empathy between one another.”

After taking a class with Hanford for two trimesters, junior Emily Cho only has great thing to say about him.

“He is a leader,” said Emily. “He makes me come out of my comfort zone and participate in class discussions. He encourages me to be proactive and become my best self.”

Junior Chelsea Clark added: “He’s engaging, and never tells you that you are wrong. He is very listening and energetic. I always look forward to my English period.”