Ellie Corbett, SP'15, Interns with Dr. Edith Widder

Ellie Corbett's last jump off High Rock during Spring 2015.

Ellie Corbett's last jump off High Rock during Spring 2015.

Growing up on the coast, Ellie, SP ’15, knew she loved the ocean long before going to The Island School. Her IS experience only cemented her future in ocean conservation and field research. This fall Ellie started her college career at Eckerd College in St. Petersberg, Florida. For her six-week January break she interned at Ocean Research & Conservation Association. ORCA is a nonprofit dedicated to developing technologies to conserve and restore ocean ecosystems impacted by anthropological activities.

With the determination to get back into the field, Ellie began her search by looking at all ocean-based nonprofits in Florida. When she saw Dr. Edie Widder was the founder and CEO of ORCA she realized the Island School connection. Although Ellie was on the Sting Ray Team at IS she had heard about Dr. Widder’s work from the Deep Sea Team’s deployment of the Medusa; the camera that captured the first images of the giant squid and Dr. Widder’s most famous discovery.

Dr. Widder speaking in the boathouse during the CEI Ten-Year Celebration.

Dr. Widder speaking in the boathouse during the CEI Ten-Year Celebration.

Ellie interned with the ORCA team on the Fast Assessment of Sediment Toxicity Program (FAST Program). The Fort Pierce area, where ORCA is based, has experienced extreme algae blooms in the last few years.  Through the sampling and analysis of the Indian River Lagoon, ORCA has made “pollution visible.” Using a state of the art water sampling system called Kilroy, and the results from FAST, ORCA has created a user-friendly map of nitrogen levels within the Indian River Lagoon. With this knowledge and tool the community and stakeholders can be empowered to resolve the problem.

With this experience, Ellie is well on her way to a career in marine conservation. Working with Dr. Widder and a team of passionate and driven scientists Ellie, although young, was challenged to work independently and trusted as a member of the FAST team. When asked what impacted her the most from her internship with ORCA she said, “Dr. Widder has never lost her inspiration and passion for the ocean, and that inspires me.”

Click on these links to learn more about ORCA, the FAST program, and Dr. Widder’s discovery of the giant squid.

This Holiday Season, Think Tiny

Santa Clara's rEvolve House. 

Santa Clara's rEvolve House. 

George Giannos, Fall 2010 Alumnus, took what he learned at The Island School and built on it. This fall, with a team of engineering students at Santa Clara University, he won a Tiny House Competition.

All the universities and colleges in California were eligible to compete in a Tiny House Competition modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. Rather than building solar powered houses that generally cost upwards of $250,000, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District decided to host a competition to build smaller houses that could be financed under $50,000. Ten California schools accepted the challenge to design and build a tiny house. Convened in Sacramento, after up to two years of work, each tiny house was judged on four categories: Architecture, Energy Efficiency, Communications, and Home Life.

The Santa Clara University team took first place as best tiny house overall. Giannos served as construction manager for the fourteen engineering students that built the rEvolve House. This 238-square-foot, off the grid house not only rotates with the sun, has reclaimed maple cabinetry from the old Santa Clara basketball court, and a roof deck, it was built for an organization called Operation Freedom Paws. A non-profit that works with veterans and service dogs.

Since graduating from Lawrenceville, Giannos has returned to The Island School in many ways. He has traveled back to Eleuthera for many summers and internships at The Center for Sustainable Development. Last year, he joined the admissions team by reading applications for Fall, Spring, and Summer Term. Giannos read over 150 Island School applications during his spring semester of his junior year at Santa Clara.

To read more about the rEvolve House:




New England Road Trip: The Island School Admissions Team is in Full Swing of Travel Season

Last week our admissions team, Taylor Hoffman (SP‘06), Maggie Nichols (F‘09), and Glenn Hartman-Mattson (Faculty‘14-15), visited high schools and colleges throughout New England! We spoke with prospective students and caught up with alumni throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Monday:

We went to Burr and Burton Academy and their Mountain Campus where we found a faculty alumnus from some of the first semesters on Eleuthera. Ben Freeman is now the Director of BBA’s Mountain Campus, a semester program focused on environmental education and sustainable living.

Ben Freeman and Taylor
Ben Freeman and Taylor

We then found a couple alums to have lunch with at Middlebury College!

Harrison Rohrer (F '13), Glenn, and Will Cembalest (SP '14)
Harrison Rohrer (F '13), Glenn, and Will Cembalest (SP '14)

For dinner we found Libby Schwab (F ‘14), Emily Peters (F ‘11), and Kyle Titsworth (SP ‘12) in Burlington, VT. All students at UVM, we loved talking with them so much that we didn’t have time to get a photo!


Onto to New Hampshire! We visited Hanover High School, Thetford Academy, and Kimball Union Academy during the day.

Thetford Academy:  Clara Hoffman (F ‘15), Taylor, and Kia O'Connor (F’15)
Thetford Academy:  Clara Hoffman (F ‘15), Taylor, and Kia O'Connor (F’15)

We had dinner at Molly’s in Hanover with some of our alums at Dartmouth and living in Hanover!

Starting from the left back row: Amelia Lubrano (SU ‘ 15), Ruby Spitz (SP’ 16), Maggie, Maisie MacMillen (F ‘15), Avery Vanacore (SP’14), Noelle Henderson (SP ‘15), Taylor, and Glenn
Starting from the left back row: Amelia Lubrano (SU ‘ 15), Ruby Spitz (SP’ 16), Maggie, Maisie MacMillen (F ‘15), Avery Vanacore (SP’14), Noelle Henderson (SP ‘15), Taylor, and Glenn


A visit to The Mountain School! We met up with Kareen Obydol-Alexandre, a teacher who attended the Summer 2016 Teachers Conference.

Kareen Obydol-Alexandre and Taylor
Kareen Obydol-Alexandre and Taylor
Taylor and Glenn made some new lady friends
Taylor and Glenn made some new lady friends

That night we met up with a couple of our alums at Bates College!

Glenn, Sam Hastings (F’12), Jake Atwood (SP’14), and Taylor (Sam’s Advisor while at IS)
Glenn, Sam Hastings (F’12), Jake Atwood (SP’14), and Taylor (Sam’s Advisor while at IS)


Taylor drove up to Camden Hills High School and visited our partners at Hurricane Island Outward Bound. Glenn visited Freeport High School and Yarmouth High School. That night we had a small gathering of prospective students and alumni families in Falmouth, ME!

Glenn and her advisee, Jessie Gray (SP’15), in Falmouth!
Glenn and her advisee, Jessie Gray (SP’15), in Falmouth!


We drove up to Colby College for a cup of coffee with our last group of alumni!

Chase Goldston (SU ‘13), Hannah Piersiak (SP ‘12), Melinda Edie (F ‘14), Glenn, Taylor, Eleonor Bauwens (SU ‘15)
Chase Goldston (SU ‘13), Hannah Piersiak (SP ‘12), Melinda Edie (F ‘14), Glenn, Taylor, Eleonor Bauwens (SU ‘15)

Overall the admissions team connected with amazing alumni and prospective students all of New England and the trip was a giant success. But the highlight of the week was Maggie Nichols finding a camel in the middle of Vermont!! Even camels can try to live better in a (foreign) place.

Maggie and the leading expert camel in maple syrup production
Maggie and the leading expert camel in maple syrup production

HIOBS Update #3

Though it has only been a few days since our last check in, the crews of the Eliza Sue and Avelinda have accomplished and experienced a lot since our stop at Soldier Cay. Surveys have been conducted by both the reef fish and elkhorn coral research teams at multiple sites within the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The large elkhorn colonies and populations of reef fish at Cambridge Cay and Rocky Dundas provided the perfect opportunity for the teams to put their research skills to use, and snorkeling these vibrant reefs was an incredible experience. We also had the opportunity to snorkel into two caves on Rocky Dundas which were an amazing display of the geology of The Bahamas. During the night following our big day of research, we rafted the two boats together so the two crews could share dinner and enjoy a lesson on stars from Sockeye.

Yesterday we got news of a cold front heading our way which would bring rain and potential thunderstorms, so both boats sailed to a protected cove on the southern end of Pipe Cay and hunkered down beneath our tarps for the day. After a few hours of reading and playing word games, the skies cleared enough for some snorkeling and island exploration. As one group explored the driftwood strewn beach, another snorkeled the rocky shoreline where we successfully captured a lobster (which provided a delicious appetizer for the crew of the Eliza Sue) and swam with a nurse shark. Before dinner, Andrew gave us an informative lesson on weather so we could better understand phenomena like cold fronts and low pressure systems.

Today our crews are re-energized after our relaxed storm day and are ready for more sailing in the sunny and breezy weather that the cold front brought once the rain had passed. We're looking forward to restocking whatever fresh produce we can get at Black Point and then beginning our journey back north and the adventures that will bring!

HIOBS Update #2

This morning the crews of the Avelinda and the Eliza Sue woke up to another beautiful sunrise in the Exuma Cays. After 6 days of sailing, snorkeling, island and cave exploring, and taking in the beautiful views of crystal clear blue water of the Exumas, we find ourselves anchored at O'Brien's Cay. Today we're refilling our water jugs thanks to the generosity of Sandy MacTaggert on Soldier Cay, and our research teams will finally be able to put their skills to use at a snorkel site called "Sea Aquarium."  We're looking forward to conducting more research in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (the oldest marine protected area in The Bahamas) over the next few days and continuing to explore the islands over the next 11 days. See below for some daily journal entries from the group!
Nov 9: Day 2 - Eliza Sue
Crossing the Sound Part 1: The Exumas Strike Back
We've made it to...well its a "U-shaped island thing" exclaimed Hannah as we sailed into harbor amongst the Exumas. About 85% of the boat watched Andrew fillet a bar jack as the other 15%  managed to weave us through deep, deep, treacherous waves and reefs. Grant was coughing (about to puke?), Kyle was still steering after 4 hours of bring stuck at the tiller, Tom was somewhere in the dark depths of the head, and Hannah was resisting the urge to sing songs about hippos as we finally dropped anchor. We had woken up at midnight, learned about stars, invented a blue sail formation, got concerned about the possibility of trump being president, laughed about the idea of Trump being President, then realized the joke was on us and Trump was going to be president.
Crossing the Sound Part 2: Revenge of the Bar Jack
Got concerned again, eventually saw land, fished and caught nothing, fished and caught something, arrived at anchor, ate our fish (shoutout to our cooks Marcus and Jacob), swam, swam with iguanas, found crafty new spoons (shells), then began dinner prep.
Crossing the Sound Part 3: A Donald's New Hope
We laughed together, we slept together in a PG sort of way, we excelled together. Tom ate cheese and maybe almost liked it, Kyle rocked his aviators and put everyone else on board to shame, Ben wore her superman hat like all experienced sailors do, Kelly didn't get spit on by Tom and successfully answered a barrage of consecutive questions about her gopro attachment lens. Jacob continued to do as Jack Sparrow does and made the power move of not swimming (he knew the poop was coming
PS: Today was actually the day Donald Trump became president. Thank god we're in a protected area because he's building a wall and the parrotfish are paying for it.
PPS: Today was absolutely epic- one of the most memorable days of my life, and I'm glad I got to spend it with the young motley crew of the Eliza Sue.
Peace, Love, and Quesadilla Cheese,
Jeff the Cleaner
Nov 12 - Day 5 - Avelinda
8:30am, beautiful morning... 6:00am wakeup call for swimming lessons with Andrew and then pancakes and dessert rice for breakfast made by Jack & Jack. The boat smells of salty citrus and I love it.
8:30pm, enjoying a long anchor watch and remembering the great day we had... Exploring a rocky cave and getting in a short snorkel, "hiking" around a few ruins and adventuring through a poisonwood infested swamp to a beautiful beach (with just a bit of washed up trash scattered around (Andrew found a gopro from the Island School).  It was an eventful day topped off with Jack and Jack's calzones, which were delicious of course. Looking forward to more adventures tomorrow!
Nov 13 - Day 6 - Eliza Sue
Part 1: The Tomcat Begins
This morning our fearless leader Tom bid the masses to rise and enter the water. The crew swam in somewhat of an organized circle for about half an hour. After the swim the group demolished part of a ration of cereal before setting off.
Part 2: The Tomcat Rises
We set off on our day, Tom steering and me at the bow watch. The trip began with me promptly getting us stuck on a sandbar and Ben getting stuck in the head yet again. She then fulfilled her quota of pushups on one arm by pumping the head for half an hour. Get swole Ben.
Part 3: The Plague
After sitting on the bow for approximately 5 hours I returned to seeing half the crew suffering from swine flu which was transferred from the ocean waves that hit Jacob, who then infected Grant, who then infected Marcus. So it goes. Marcus then orally donated his daily ration of food into the ocean. The ocean is used to, but not fond of such gifts.
Part 4: questionable
Marcus cooks after yacking hours before...questionable. A red-faced Tomcat swears he applied sunscreen...also questionable. Jeff completes his pushups as Jacob explains his very questionable driving habits, extremely questionable. Dinner is close to being made, will we eat it all? Not a question.
- Kyle
Nov 14 - Day 7 - Avelinda
The Journey So Far
Our journey began on November 8 with loading the Avelinda and Eliza Sue and preparing our groups for an 18-day expedition. Not knowing what to anticipate, we grabbed our oars and rowed away from The Island School. Over the course of the first day on the boats we learned how to rig and hoist our fore and main sails, read the wind, understand the tides, organize and take care of the boat, steer and rescue "Bob" our frequently overboard fender. Cooking on the boats posed a new challenge with our food stored throughout the bilge underneath us and our only stove located in the stern of the boat. With this challenge came delicious meals from night 1. After anchoring off the whale tail of Eleuthera we had our first of nightly stargazing and celestial navigation lessons led by Sockeye. After, we set up the boards and fell into a fitful 2 hours of sleep in preparation for our crossing of the Exuma sound. We sailed throughout the night giving us time to get to know our instructor Sockeye as well as admiring the stars and watching the glowing plankton light up the water as we sailed. This magical night sail was the perfect beginning to our expedition. After the first day on the boat we settled into a routine starting with a daily 6am wake up call followed by a morning swim workout and breakfast. Every day we rinse and sanitize the boat, make a navigation plan considering wind, tides, and bearings, and create a plan for the day. In the past week we have swam with stingrays, rowed through a mangrove creek, snorkeled reefs and a plane wreck, and explored countless islands of the Exuma Cays with breathtaking white sand beaches.
With our instructors' extensive knowledge of marine science, sailing, and boat living, and overall guidance on important life skills such as self reliance, leadership, and compassion, we sail into our final 11 days of expedition. We are excited about taking full advantage of everything the Exuma Cays has to offer, most importantly our fish and coral research which is part of an ongoing coral reef monitoring project in The Bahamas.