Letter to Editor: Schools’ partners enrich classrooms

To the Editor:

Mount Desert Island Regional School System students and staff are able to access a multitude of quality experiences in and out of the classroom through our collaboration with our eleven approved Education Partners.

Over the past school year, you may have seen our third graders at the Vintage Schoolhouse in the spring (thanks to the MDI Historical Society), fourth graders looking through microscopes at the MDI Bio Lab in November, our sixth graders participating in climate change exploration at Schoodic or our eighth graders taking core water samples and measuring dissolved oxygen in Somes Pond (made possible by Education Partners Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary and Acadia National Park) in the fall.

Middle and high school students were at Camp Beech Cliff throughout the year — for the Seventh Grade Read with our partner Island Readers & Writers, anti-bullying training, leadership training, wilderness education, the Middle School Speech Contest, and the 8th Grade Big Event.

You may have seen Jackson Laboratory scientists working with second graders, seventh graders and seniors completing academic year internships.

Students of all ages, in all of our schools, were in Acadia National Park multiple times, throughout the year, on hikes, field trips, art and science experiences and running practice for the cross country team. Our students help out in Acadia National Park by participating in preservation, resource conservation, recycling, community outreach, serving on the student tech team and assisting with the Acadia Night Sky Festival.

Our middle and high school students have worked closely with A Climate to Thrive on solarizing the high school, support for Green Team projects and through sustainability initiatives as summer interns and activists lobbying for the end of single use plastic bags in all island towns.

This past year Healthy Acadia helped with parent and student education about vaping and other issues related to substance use and abuse, and implemented the Smarter Lunch Room Project with our seven larger schools.

The Abbe Museum continued to provide customized curriculum-based experiences for our students.

College of the Atlantic allowed students to take courses, placed interns and student teachers in many of our schools, worked with students in the Marine Service Tech and Eastern Maine Skippers programs aboard the Osprey, helped with the Farm to School program at Conners Emerson and asked several MDIRSS teachers to partner as education course faculty and guest speakers.

The district’s Education Partners are local nonprofits that work closely with our school district to provide curriculum-based experiences, teacher professional development and co-sponsor community and parent education events across our schools and communities. Each of our Education Partners provides multiple opportunities to work with them each year.

As the Director of Curriculum, I look forward to the 2019-2020 school year and deepening our relationship with two new Education Partners, the Seal Cove Auto Museum and the Wendell Gilley Museum.

A special shout-out to Matt Cornish, Debra Deal, Billy Helprin, Michael McKernan, Charlie Ray, Gary Friedmann, Joe Blotnick, Jill Higgins, Elsie Flemings, Tara Young, Julie Daigle, Jane Disney, Liz Marnik, Linda Fuller, Bonnie Tai, Raney Bench, Alison Johnson, Jan Coates, Kate Petrie, Mackette McCormack and Tim Garrity for all of your efforts on behalf of our students and teachers this past year.

Many thanks, too, to everyone at Friends of Acadia, the YMCA, Harbor House and Neighborhood House, the 1932 Criterion, the Barn Arts Collective, MDI Hospital, the Jesup Library, the Southwest Harbor Library, the Northeast Harbor Library, the Bagaduce Chorale and so many others for providing our teachers and students with quality support and programming.

As we embark on the 2019-2020 school year I look forward to all of the ways students and teachers will be supported by our partners and by our entire community. I am so pleased that these quality opportunities are available to students across our schools.

We are very fortunate to live in this beautiful place and to have so many amazing and talented people who live here and work closely with us to improve teaching and learning.

Julie Meltzer

Southwest Harbor

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