Island Teachers Conference Extends Reach Beyond Maine
The Island Teachers Conference, an event for island educators and community members hosted by the Island Institute since 1987, expanded its reach this year by inviting educators from along the Eastern Seaboard, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the West Coast and Alaska. At this year’s conference, held on Friday, November 19th at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast, more than 100 attendees participated in a wide range of workshops – from “Music and Movement for Preschoolers” to “Creating Lessons and Digital Text on the iPad” – as well as in valuable topic-based networking discussions.
Educators from the Gifft Hill School in St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands) and the Harker’s Island School in North Carolina attended for the first time this year, and were eager to learn about some of the unique solutions that island communities have developed to address issues similar to those found in other small, isolated districts. Sarah Haynes, an educator from St. John, had visited some of Maine’s island schools during the summer, and was excited about sharing her program, Education And Resiliency Through Horticulture (EARTH), as a co-presenter with Amy Marx, the principal of the North Haven Community School, and Wes Norton, the Institute’s Island Fellow placed with the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School. Their “Farm to School” workshop was just one of the 20 workshops offered for teachers of all age groups.
The Island Teachers Conference has helped foster many collaborative partnerships over the years, and sparked the development of several inter-island projects and initiatives. By widening the circle to educators around the country, Ruth Kermish-Allen, the Institute’s education director, hopes that the increased sharing of best practices and ideas will result in even more creative, meaningful learning opportunities for students in Maine and beyond. For more information about the Island Institute’s education programs, please visit www.islandinstitute.org/education_services.