The story of the Mill Hollow School is the story of young people leaving – and adults returning – home. Of learning about where you’re from by experiencing as much of the world as you can, and bringing back all that you have gathered to be a contributing member of your community.
The founders, Heather Holloway and Wade Smith, had to follow this path to be together – going to Fall Mountain High School together, before living 20 years on opposite sides of the country, and then rediscovering each other and the home they left. Once together, Heather started her own production company, and named it “Mill Hollow Productions”, after a village in her home town of Alstead NH, which was once lined with water-powered mills. The name suggests the combination of artistry, industry, and capability of the 19th century New England millwright, carpenter, machinist, and farmer. Art not for it’s own sake, but for a tangible purpose; industry not of mindlessness, but of creativity and brilliant hard work. Trades that melded into one another, because life once demanded proficiency in many skills, not just the one you did forty hours per week for your paycheck.
The Mill Hollow School has grown from the seed of Mill Hollow Productions. In that same spirit, we will bring together experienced craftspeople from this area and beyond – and adults, teens, and children who want to build their capability in a comfortable setting.
Heather is a digital storyteller – creating and capturing visually compelling stories through the digital medium for Web, TV, and Print; a career that began locally working as a Freelance Producer and Director for area theater and eventually led to Los Angeles. A resulting 15-year Story Producer career, working for various TV networks specializing in unscripted docu-drama, took her to 48 states and 4 countries. Now back on the East Coast, she’s focused on creating short-form documentaries highlighting innovative people, organizations and events, documenting local history and folklore within New England. Teaching and helping kids pursue their passion has always been her priority – working with The Young Writers Project mounting original teen-written work on the professional stage, teaching Media Literacy and creating counter ads with Writer’s Block in New London, creating acting/directing and media workshops in Los Angeles.
Wade is a wood boatbuilder – which is a trade that combines woodworking from forestry to finishing; metalworking including casting, forging, machining, and fabrication; composites, which involves using modern plastics and reinforcing fabrics; as well as historical research, drafting, design, and the installation of systems like powertrains, electronics, and sailboat rigging. And as long as Wade has been in this trade, he has been teaching it – at the WoodenBoat School, Mystic Seaport Museum, GreenWood, the Apprenticeshop, the Wooden Boat Workshop of Norwalk, and now Kroka Expeditions.
But the courses at the Mill Hollow School will extend far beyond video production and boatbuilding. We will bring in some of the best craftspeople and teachers in the world, as well as local artisans whom we can help teach their skills to others, both on our campus in East Alstead, and in local shops and studios, like the remaining mill of Mill Hollow, Chase’s Mill (millhollowheritageassociation.org).
We encourage you to contact us to request a course, offer to teach a course, or what you would like to see in the Mill Hollow School facilities! Thank you for embarking on this journey with us!