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Educational Programs

Teacher Conference 2013

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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.

2013-08-05 (10-47-47)_P1030014As 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!"

2013-08-05 (14-03-30)__DSC2215Teacher 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!

Abaco Flat Program - Friends of the Environment

IMG_1293Last 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. IMG_1273The 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 beautiful day on the water. After tagging and doing a little fishing, he took us over to the Black Fly Lodge to check out their facilities. It was very quaint and personal lodge, right on the newly developed Schooner Bay. Clint was a wealth of information on not only what it's like to be a top notch fly fishing guide, but also some of the background on the development of the unique "Live, work, and play" community of Schooner Bay. 

Check out their website:

Black Fly Lodge - http://www.blackflylodge.com/ 

Schooner Bay - http://www.schoonerbaybahamas.com/

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For the last day, we headed out flyfishing to get more practice using the fly rods and to catch a few bonefish. We went out in Cherokee Sound with local guide Buddy Pinder and found LOTS of bonefish. Those spooky Cherokee bones are known to be tough to catch, but we did have two students get the chance to catch two bonefish that morning! Once the tide got a little high for fishing, we had lunch at the Pinder's house in Casuarina. Students then learned to make their own flys to take home and use next time they are out fishing! 

Check out Buddy Pinder at:

www.worldwidefishing.com

skeeterone@coralwave.com

It was a great week out on the flats. Students got a well rounded experience on the importance of bonefish in the coastal flats ecosystem. They also learned first hand the value of bonefish in the flyfishing industry where in the Bahamas, $141 million dollars is produced annually. We hope to have a few future flyfishing guides come out of the bunch! Big thanks to our guides, Clint and Buddy, as well as researchers, Zack and Justin, who helped make the experience unforgettable for our students.

We look forward to collaborating with Friends of the Environment next year for the next Abaco flats program!

Check out Friends of the Environment at: http://www.friendsoftheenvironment.org/

SeaTrek's Time at CEI

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!

Final Gap Year Update

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.

Gapz forever.

Liza Wright-Fairbanks

Gap Program Update #6

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!

Training continued throughout the week, including the first taste at swim drills for most of us, led of course by our fearless leader Scotty, as well as an early morning game of kickball with two visiting programs and a number of Island School faculty…

…which led to THE highlight of this week: the MONSTER Run-Swim (if you were to have someone explain to you the 6-mile course, you would indeed see how it is rightly termed a monster). On this cloudy, breezy Saturday morning we woke up early to meet at the flagpole to warm up as per usual for morning exercise and greeted the day, led by Will. Our support staff (a collection from IS and CEI) took off for their places around the Cape, and at 6:49am we gappers began the long course. With many different legs of running and swimming, we wound our way through “the loop” and marina, along beaches, and finally over the final portions of the regular run-swim course, ending on campus. Our strengths – whether as runners, swimmers, or somewhere in between – balanced us out, most of us returning to the flagpole-finish line within minutes of each other, and everyone under the 2-hour goal! It’s pretty impossible to describe exactly what this experience was like in a blog post, but all in all it was not as bad as we thought it would be, it was in fact fun, and I for one felt like a powerhouse athlete afterwards – so, pretty darn rewarding. (A shoutout of thanks to the support and cheers from fellow gappers and the support staff, especially Scotty, who did the whole course with us!)

Saturday afternoon was spent with well-deserved rest and relaxation (aka naps, snacks, and movies), particularly appropriate for the chilly weather (the rain started just minutes after we’d all completed the Monster). We have also been continuing work on our Human Ecology final papers and beginning brainstorming for our DoLs (Demonstrations of Learning). AND, this coming week will see the arrival of the 48 Spring ’13 Island School students; it’s sure to be yet another exciting week here on Eleuthera!

by Julia Peters