2020 Island Teachers Conference

October 8 - 9, 2020

Striving for Equity: Rural Educators as Courageous Leaders

The Island Institute’s Education Team is excited to bring you our annual Island Teacher Conference—completely online for the first time, October 8-9!

The conference offered a variety of learning opportunities centered around our theme, “Striving for Equity: Rural Educators as Courageous Leaders.” The theme was chosen in response to your feedback and interest in focusing on equity issues as they relate to the coronavirus, systemic racism, and rural education more broadly.

Watch the recording here. 

Goals for the 2020 ITC:

  • Increase awareness about equity issues in our rural schools and communities
  • Center the voices of diverse individuals and highlight school-based equity work of education organizations within our communities and the state of Maine
  • Share resources to help us all better address equity issues in ourselves, our schools, and our communities
  • Offer and encourage personal and professional reflection and self-care


Virtual! Due to COVID recommendations, this year’s event took place 100% online, with two days of engaging and interactive online presentations and workshops—both Thursday, Oct. 8 and Friday, Oct. 9—addressing a wide range of equity challenges and education topics.
Click here for the full conference agenda



We’re happy to announce that Dr. Cat Biddle, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education and Human Development at The University of Maine will be our keynote speaker! Cat has a deep understanding of rural schools and has recently been involved in a number of collaborations involving island schools, including Portrait of a Graduate and Community Learning for ME. Cat also recently co-authored the report, “What can we learn from the innovation of Maine districts to support remote student learning from March – June 2020?”

Dr. Biddle’s research focuses on ways in which rural schools and communities respond to social and economic change in the 21st century. She is particularly interested in how schools can more effectively leverage partnerships with external organizations or groups to address issues of social inequality and how non-traditional leaders—such as youth, parents and other community members—may lead or serve as partners in these efforts. Her interests are driven by her professional background in community development that leverages schools. See her full bio here.


  • Maine-Wabanaki REACH – A cross-cultural collaboration that successfully supported the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is focused on Wabanaki health, wellness and self-determination and community building.
  • JustME for JustUS – A project of Maine Environmental Changemakers in collaboration with Campaign Earth that aims to develop a civic engagement and climate justice statewide youth-led network.
  • Operation Breaking Stereotypes – A service-based organization working with schools in Maine and New York City to help students address ethnic, socio-economic, gender, and racial stereotypes through writing, reading, music, photography, and personal connections.
  • OUTMaine – A Rockland-based organization working to make Maine communities welcoming and affirming for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth.
  • Island Readers & Writers – Brining book-based educational programs to over 2,800 children, grades PreK-8, living on Maine’s coastal islands and in remote communities in Washington County – from Casco to Cobscook Bay.


View the preliminary conference agenda here.


To learn more about the Island Teachers Conference and this year’s presenters, visit our ITC page here.