The trajectory for this school year has been so unexpected, and in many ways so hard, which makes long-standing, successful collaborations even more valuable. On May 21, 2020, students, alumni, teachers, and families gathered together for a virtual celebration marking the 10-year anniversary of the Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative, or TLC. Even though the pre-planned party couldn’t take place in person, the TLC is very good at making virtual celebrations fun and funny, and this one was no exception.
On May 26, 2020, the Island Institute formally welcomed the fourth cohort of the Mentoring, Access, and Persistence (MAP) Program and celebrated the achievements and next steps of the MAP20 graduates. This annual event, usually held in person on a college campus as a kick-off to the MAP Summer Leadership Intensive, took place virtually on Zoom, and despite being online, still created a wonderful opportunity to connect and celebrate.
Equity. It’s a concept that many value but can struggle to put into practice. When it comes to the state of Maine’s efforts to develop strategies to aggressively respond to climate change, what does it look like to design with a commitment to equity and to meeting the needs of all Mainers at the center? While much of the world came to a screeching halt this spring, members of the Maine Climate Council’s working groups doubled down on their efforts to develop recommendations on how to reach the state’s climate goals.
“I can help” is a phrase that the students and teachers of Maine’s smallest and most remote island schools have been saying a lot lately. They are coming to the aid of frustrated parents and teachers as they sit in front of their computers feeling overwhelmed, maybe even in tears, trying to figure out Zoom or Google Classroom for the first time. These island helpers are experts in learning online, thanks in part to the Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative* (or TLC). That expertise has allowed them to more smoothly shift to the new educational reality that all schools and families are finding themselves in, and to provide assistance and reassurance to their mainland colleagues and family members.
Anyone who has collaborated with others on a project knows that it usually takes a lot more time than simply going it alone does. And if the collaboration involves multiple schools and nonprofit organizations, you’re going to need a healthy dose of patience, persistence, and probably some money. This is one of the many reasons why the staying power of the Kelp4Kids after-school program on Peaks Island, run by high school students from Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, is so remarkable. Now in its third year, Kelp4Kids was started by Baxter alum Emma Christman and allows students’ creativity to flourish, while still educating themselves in hands-on, self-motivated ways.
I love my job. I especially love the 60% of my time that is allocated to supporting and coordinating the Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative, or TLC, as we affectionately call it. Monhegan, Matinicus, Frenchboro, the Cranberry Isles, Isle au Haut, Cliff Island, and Massachusetts’ Cuttyhunk are all home to small island schools. This year, the Cranberries have the largest student population of the TLC, with nine students in their K-8 school. A network of one- and two-room schoolhouses in Maine and Massachusetts, the TLC connects teachers and students, both virtually and in person.
The Island Institute is excited to be partnering with the nonprofit Rural Aspirations Project to bring together three small, isolated, rural Maine high schools and take an in-depth look at the unique role and purpose of rural education and its connection to rural community, vitality, and sustainability. The schools involved are: Islesboro Central School and Vinalhaven School in Penobscot Bay and East Grand School located in Northern Maine near the Canadian border. Learn more about the “Portrait of a Graduate” project and other grantees in this announcement from the Barr Foundation.
What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is a question kids hear a lot and answering it can get harder as the school years tick by. This is the time of year when it becomes very real as high school seniors and young adults grapple with decisions about what they want to do next in their lives and how to pay for it. Many will go right on to a traditional four-year college, but increasingly, while some will take a gap year before college, others will seek technical training and head into the workforce with a credential of value. Learn about our new Compass Workforce Grant, and how it can support island students and young adults in pursuing workforce development and professional development skills.
Are you a Maine island student interested in going to a camp or educational program? Do you want to travel, meet new people, and experience something new? If so, the Geiger Scholarship for students may be for you! Not a student? Please share with island students you know! Middle school, high school, and post secondary students are eligible to apply, and annual deadlines are November 30 and February 28.
When I attend the Island Teachers’ Conference, I most look forward to the opportunity to connect with educators and administrators from up and down the coast. This year, with ample time between sessions and during meals to chat, I enjoyed conversing with teachers from Vinalhaven, Isle au Haut, Islesboro, and even some participating mainland schools. However, the highlight of the conference for me was the keynote address by Pender Makin, commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.