Guest blog: Education commissioner’s keynote highlight of annual teachers conference

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.

Guest blog: Why the Island Teachers Conference is so valuable

Teaching in island schools is so unlike teaching in larger mainland districts. That’s why the Island Institute’s Island Teachers Conference is so valuable—it offers a unique opportunity for island teachers to access relevant professional development and network with other island teachers. An impressive hallmark of this conference is the way in which its organizers are so responsive to feedback. There is a real eagerness on the part of the Island Institute to meet the changing needs of island teachers, and each year they tweak the conference in both large and small ways to provide the most meaningful and worthwhile event.

Rural Libraries and Digital Inclusion

On June 25, 2019, Island Institute staff facilitated a meeting co-hosted by the Maine State Library and held at the Rockland Public Library to discuss the digital inclusion work happening in libraries throughout Maine. Attendees representing fifteen libraries from Washington County to Wells, Maine, shared experiences and exchanged resources for meeting the needs of communities in a world increasingly dependent on the internet.

The 48-Hour Field Trip

Last week I was fortunate to experience my first ever TLC field trip. The Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative, or TLC, is a group of one- and two-room school houses whose teachers support each other on curriculum and problem solving and whose students meet for virtual reading groups, student council, and science classes. Based on my experiences the past few months, the highlight of the TLC is the biannual field trip. Each fall and each spring, the TLC schools join together for multi-day field trips off island, a chance for socialization and off-island experiences, not to mention overstimulation, play, packed schedules, and possibly a college campus dining hall buffet (dessert, anyone?).

Island high school students visit Rockland for Career Day event

If you were out and about in Rockland on Friday, March 29th, you might have seen groups of students from Islesboro, North Haven and Vinalhaven visiting different area businesses and organizations to learn about available career options and educational opportunities. From the arts and retail to marine trades and finance, students got an in-person look at some familiar and new ideas about work options in the Midcoast during the Career Day event.

Island Teachers Learn about Maine’s Workforce Crisis

Credential of Value. It’s a fairly new term in the world of education and workforce development and can mean different things depending on where you live and what vocational opportunities you have access to. According to MaineSpark, a statewide workforce development initiative powered by a coalition of education and business leaders, a credential of value is training or education beyond a high school diploma that leads to a job in the current economy.

Five Lessons Learned from the TLC

Through its inter-island peer network, the community of the Outer Islands Teaching & Learning Collaborative (TLC) creates a lifeline of support for students and teachers in order to sustain Maine’s one- and two-room island schools. This support takes shape through teacher-to-teacher and teacher-to-student interaction, as well as student-to-student support and community outreach. As Ian Collins of our Education team writes, there are valuable lessons one can learn about the importance of connections, collaboration, and what it means to be a TLC student and teacher.

Island Institute releases 2018 “Waypoints: Livelihoods” publication

The Island Institute has published Waypoints: Livelihoods on Maine’s Coast and Islands featuring a first-time look at a range of coastal community employment indicators. The report presents visualized data and stories about how residents make a living and how Maine’s coastal and island communities compare to the rest of the state and the nation.

Everyday Leadership: MAP students attend Summer Leadership Intensive at Bowdoin College

As the air starts getting cooler and the days grow shorter, we know that the dog days of summer are coming to an end—and that means students going back to school. For many students, their summers involved relaxation, catching up with friends, and not thinking about school, but four students in our MAP program gave up three of their summer vacation days to immerse themselves in all things college during our MAP Summer Leadership Intensive at Bowdoin College.