The end of March brought together committed early childhood educators from the islands for the second Skipping Stones, Island Early Childhood Educators Conference, held at the Country Inn in Rockport each year. Staff and committee members from North Haven, Vinalhaven, Long Island, Chebeague and Islesboro took part. Participants brought with them a variety of experiences with the common thread of island challenges and advantages, from family childcare to school-based pre-K programs. The event was made possible by the Island Institute.

The day began with a presentation by Deborah Chase from the Maine Afterschool Network, who shared grant ideas and issue briefs for after school programming. The group then took part in a music and movement workshop led by certified Kindermusik teacher (and executive director of North Haven Arts & Enrichment) Christie Hallowell. The floors shook and the walls rang with singing and circle dancing as Hallowell shared over 30 songs, resources and tips for working with young children. The singing of the group was recorded using the Macintosh Garageband program and each participant will receive a copy of the recording to keep melodies and lyrics fresh in their memory while helping to bring the new music into their classrooms in fun and creative ways.

The afternoon session was a tour of three different local preschool programs.  The group piled into vehicles and headed out to People Place, of Rockport, a Reggio Emilio inspired program. They then attended an open house at the Ashwood Waldorf School, followed by the Children’s House Montessori School of Camden. Participants were welcome to take pictures and a representative was available at each site to answer questions and talk about the flow of the day. One participant wrote, “As I think of all the exposure we got to a great variety of preschool programs, I know that some of the impressions will be with me for life.”

The Island Institute provided funding to cover the costs of lodging, meals and workshop costs. It also assisted with logistics and arrangements through the services of Sally Perkins, programs coordinator.