The Island Teachers’ Conference is planned for Oct. 2-3 at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast. Over 80 island educators will be attending, along with 20 or more representatives of other schools, nonprofit organizations, education foundations and the state. The goal of the conference is to bring island teachers together to share their unique experiences and expertise with one another, network, and grow professionally. Another aim is to allow educators to learn more about educational resources available to island teachers. To this end, organizations such as Bigelow Laboratory, The Lobster Conservancy, Ocean Classroom, Island Institute, and the Maine Laptop Initiative will be sharing information about the respective educational services they offer.

The event begins Thursday night with dinner and a discussion entitled “Island Schools – Challenges, Strengths and Models.” Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, state Rep. Hannah Pingree and island educators will discuss the current state and future of island schools.

Friday will include interactive and hands-on presentations, most led by island teachers. Sarah Confry, the K-8 teacher on Monhegan, will lead a session on being a new teacher in an island community. Jennifer Clifford and Vinalhaven students will share their lego robotics program. The transitioning and mentoring program developed for Long Island students will be the topic of teacher Marci Train’s hour-long session. Topics such as student aspirations, GIS projects, scholarships and curriculum writing will also be discussed at the conference.

A central focus of this project is supporting the networking that occurs between teachers during the conference. The Island Institute has developed an island teacher list serve and is working on revamping its web page to better serve educators and students. The Institute’s education officer and Island Fellows will work to support collaborative projects wherever and whenever possible. For example, mini-conferences focused on certain subjects, grades or issues may be another way to link island teachers together. There are also plans to create an Island Teachers’ Coalition to further network schools, educate the public about island and rural school issues, and guide the Island Institute to best serve island schools.

The conference is made possible through a partnership of island schools, the Island Institute, the Maine Community Foundation and MBNA.

For information concerning the October 2-3 Island Teachers’ Conference please call Mike Felton at 594-9209 ext. 104, or email to

Mike Felton is Education Officer at the Island Institute.