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.
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.
On June 18th, twelve students from four Maine islands, and their families, gathered at Thomas College in Waterville to celebrate the high school graduation and send-off of the MAP class of 2019 and welcome the newest MAP cohort. The event also kicked off the annual MAP Leadership Intensive.
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?).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the 2017-18 school year the elementary, middle and high school students on Vinalhaven studied kelp, both in their science classes and an after school K-5 program. In addition to classroom based-lessons, students spent time at and on the water – collecting seaweed at low tide, growing and harvesting kelp, and learning all aspects of kelp aquaculture and related topics on Hurricane Island. Some students even got the unique opportunity to process Vinalhaven-grown kelp.