Earlier this month The Island School was proud to host our 15th annual Teacher’s Conference! Each year, this conference attracts teachers who are interested in collaboratively exploring best practices in place-based experiential learning. This year, we welcomed 17 passionate teachers from the USA, Bahamas and Canada. Together, we pushed ourselves to feel like students again–often letting go of old fears as we dove, snorkeled, researched sharks & conchs, ran, jumped and committed to navy showers and other challenges of sustainable dorm living! By the end of the week, everyone felt like they had stretched as educators, expanded their network of peer professionals, and grown as individuals.
As CJ Bell shared, “This conference was one of the most meaningful professional development opportunities that I have experienced. Living in and learning about place based educational experiences and discussing different components of experiential education was enlightening and I cannot wait to take new ideas back to the classroom!”
Teacher Conference 2013 Alumni: CJ Bell & Annie Johnson of The Brookwood School (MA), Katisha Forbes of The Deep Creek School (Andros), Scott Moorehead of the Goodwillie Environmental School (MI), Maggie Karlin of Columbia Grammar & Prep School (NYC), Susan Morris of Berwick Academy (ME), Cheryl Ingram of Preston Albury High School (Eleuthera), Erin Mellow & Eric Russman of Kimble Union Academy (NH), Jaclyn Jones of Deep Creek Middle School (Eleuthera), Michele Werlin of the Farmland School (MD), David Ardley of Southern Illinois University (IL) and John Paul Brennan of Kipp Houston HS (TX), David Koning of Grand Rapids Christian (MI), Todd Loffredo of The Hun School (NJ), Desi Pena of the Spence School (NYC) and Megan McNutt of Trinity College School (Ontario).
The Island School is especially grateful to the schools who invested in professional development with us as well as to our supporters who so generously sponsored about 25% of the teachers in attendance!
Last week Justin Lewis, from Grand Bahama, Zack Jud, from Florida International University and Tiffany Gray, from Cape Eleuthera Institute, worked with Cassandra Abraham at Friends of the Environment in Marsh Harbour, Abaco on a flats program with local students from Abaco. This flats program was like a shorter version, just 3 days, of our 7 day sleep over Flats Week summer program at Cape Eleuthera Institute. It gives students a chance to not only learn the basics of flyfishing, but also immerse themselves into the ecology and conservation of the flats ecosystem. We had 5 students, all Bahamians, participating in the course.
The program started out on Tuesday, August 13th, with an informational presentation on bonefish and flats ecology. Zach and Justin also spent a bit of time that first day teaching students the basics on flyfishing where they had the chance to practice casting, some of them for the first time! That afternoon we headed over to Great Cistern to do an introduction on methodology and how to use the seine net. We saw lots of turtles, a shark and caught some shad (mojarra), crabs, shrimp, and other fun stuff in the seine net.
The second day we tagged 20 bonefish around Crossing Rocks, about 12 miles south of the Marls. Clint Kemp from Black Fly Lodge in Schooner Bay took us out with two of their flats boats for a Continue reading →
Cape Eleuthera Institute said goodbye this week to SeaTrek, a group of students aboard a sailing, scuba, and marine biology expedition. They kept a very detailed blog during their time at CEI–check it out here!
The sun is shining, the water is glistening, and the gappers are getting antsy because we just finished our last full week here at CEI. This week saw the culmination of our intensive programs, and we all worked hard to finish out our independent work strongly. While a few of us spent time in the wet lab finishing up experiments or dissections, others worked hard to make their marks on campus through various projects. We also spent time working on our final human ecology papers, in which we all chose an environmental issue to research and discuss. Along with our papers, we began to plan our Demonstrations of Learning (DoLs), which we will be presenting to the greater community in a few days. It means a lot that we will get to explain what we’ve taken away from this island to those who are also lucky to call it home
Although our time on Eleuthera is coming to an end and we’re preparing to go our separate ways, we will carry the knowledge that we have acquired in the past super-awesome-cool eight weeks with us wherever we may end up.
What a busy week! This final week of February brought the midpoint of our intensives (see the previous post for background info), the much-anticipated Monster Run-Swim, and various other excitements!
Intensives continued for the gappers – for me that meant continuing on with the shark team, the highlight of which was discovering we sharking gappers are not bad luck (aka we finally got to help with a shark!!!). After a long morning setting up and then watching our line in the marina, tempting a number of sharks with fresh bait from fishermen down the dock, we finally had one large nurse shark bite! Jack, Shaper and I got to help Brendan and Ian take the necessary samples and measurements, plus tag the shark before releasing it again. This was the second-to-last nurse shark needed for the longline physiology study – wahoo!
On Tuesday night, various members of the CEI/IS community gathered for a Coffeehouse. Among a cluster of various talents from baking to putting chickens into tonic immobility (more commonly used – at least here – with sharks), Shaper performed an excerpt from the Vagina Monologues written by her friend, Sasek a poem by the spoken-word poet Andrea Gibson, and Jack sang Neil Young’s Heart of Gold with two of the interns. All around a fun, talent-filled evening!
Wednesday was Foundation Day, celebrated with participation in various activities (I went lobstering, which turned into Shaper and I practicing hauling ourselves into the boat – just getting buff), meetings with our “extended advisories” that we will be a part of (briefly) while the IS students are here, and a barbeque and bonfire on Sunset Beach! Continue reading →
It’s week five of our time here on Eleuthera, and we started off the past seven days by diving head first into each of our intensive projects. Just a little background before I continue: for the rest of our time here at CEI, each of us gets to help out on various projects going on at the institute. Each gap year student will be doing something different for their last three weeks, depending on what projects interest them the most.
I spent the week working with the wonderful shark team here at CEI. Currently, they are doing a longline behavioral study, seeing how sharks act once they are hooked on a longline, and how this affects their blood counts. Two other gappers, along with myself, got to go out and help set and check the longline for sharks. As of now, we have yet to see a shark, and we are slowly becoming convinced that we have cursed the entire team. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this coming week will bring new results!
This Tuesday nine of us embarked upon a sea kayaking trip – destination: Lighthouse Beach for our 48-hour solo experience. With choppy waters, we paddled a whopping mile from campus before having to beach the boats and camp out for the night. Day two, we try again: only to encounter more sea-sickening waves and exerting far too much effort for the distance traveled. We stop for lunch and a nap on the beach, then out on the water again. Alas, we make it one-third of the way to our destination before resulting to hitching a ride the rest of the way to Lighthouse. Along the way, some lovely conversations, bonding over games of Wizard, and the best campfire pizza bliss. Valentine’s Day dawned upon us and we spent the holiday alone — in the most literal sense. Thursday marked the beginning of our48-hour solo. Seven of us scattered along the shore of Lighthouse Beach with nothing but pink sand, our thoughts, and the horizon of each new day before us.
Solo: a time for self reflection, awareness, acceptance. Ye of little faith who may be wondering, “What in the world do you plan on doing with your life?” Well, I took some time during my solo to contemplate this question and let me affirm your doubts by responding–I still have no idea. “But,” you say, “weren’t you supposed to Continue reading →
Why hello there! Here it is…the much-awaited update of the Gap Year lord and ladies. The highlight of this week was our down-island trip, during which we got to see some groovy spots on the island. Starting at the Laughing Lizard Café with a breathtakingly close encounter with Lenny Kravitz, we journeyed north to Harbour Island. We put on our ritzy pants and ventured into the resorts, only to discover that Cape Eleuthera is a far more beautiful, righteous, and down to earth place to be. After scrounging around looking at menus of the various restaurants, we decided that instead of spending our college tuition money on a steak and accompanying beverage, we would retire to the fried food shacks and eat al fresco. A great time was had by all as we watched the sun set, munched on questionable fried items, and listened to the sage life advice of Scotty and Taylor.
The next day we toured Spanish Wells, which was enticing insofar as it felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone, and the accents were delightfully funky. In order to understand what I’m talking about, one must travel to Spanish Wells and experience the magic therein. We went on to explore the Hatchet Bay Caves, Continue reading →
Last week The Island School hosted 12 SCUBA divers from the New York Harbor School. Accompanying the divers were dive instructors Liv Dillon and Joe Gessert and board member Eli Smith. The divers continue the relationship between the New York Harbor School and The Island School, which includes dive trips such as this one as well as bringing students to enroll in Island School semesters as part of the City Bridge program. Students participated in up to 22 dives (four per day), 10 received their Advanced Open Water Certification, while the other 2 students (who had already completed their Advanced Open Water) worked towards their Divemaster.
For more information on the New York Harbor School, check out their website, and for a glimpse of what the students experienced, check out these photos and the video below:
It’s been a busy week down on Eleuthera, and with our Down Island Trip right around the corner, us gappers are excited about all we have experienced and accomplished in the last seven days.
After grinding away for hours on the elearning, we all passed our final assessments and were able to get out on the water for some real SCUBA training. We started with some confined dives at The Saddle where we learned and practiced skills to get our Open Water Diver certification. After 4 confined dives over the course of the week, and practicing a bunch of skills both under and above the water, we all received our Open Water Diver certifications on Thursday and began advanced work Sunday.
We awoke on Wednesday morning to a beautiful sunrise and headed over to the farm Continue reading →