Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oh, the places we'll go! (Part one..)

The IslandWood EEC Class of 2011's final teaching week (so much love!)
Graduation weekend was emotional for us all. We were overjoyed during our last week of teaching. We were suffering from lack of sleep and were stressed with finishing up our ISP's and teaching portfolios on time. We felt accomplishment and success. But, most of all - we felt a profound sadness to leave our grad family.
Many special guests gather for the premiere of a creation the grads were proud to leave behind!
(Once we figure out how to get it online, we hope to share it with the world!)
Thursday, June 9th, marked the end of the teaching week and the debrief lunch was an event that will not be soon forgotten by either the grads or the staff.  We were given an opportunity to truly think about what we would take with us after our year at IslandWood. One of the most important things we learned this year was how powerful a community can be. It is an amazing feeling to be surrounded and supported by a group of people who truly care about you and your well being, and from here on out, we hope to create similar communities wherever we go. 
Danny and Cathy Sanford chat about Danny's project during the ISP sharing 
Teaching was over but we weren’t done yet. Friday provided the grads who spent all quarter working on their Independent Study Projects the opportunity to show off all of the cool things they now know.  We already posted Chris Emme’s amazing “Farm Rise Up” video. (Please see two posts ago if you missed it!) Other projects included Kathie Bradford’s creation - an addition to the IslandWood website all about owls! Laura Goff shared her journey through pictures and video of her creation of a (very successful!) community storytelling event at IslandWood, while Adam, Lauren Brown, and Kasey shared the exciting (and soon to be published?!) research that they have conducted with the help of John Haskin (Director of Education at IW), interviewing School Overnight Program alums! There were so many amazing projects shared. Then, all grads presented their portfolios. These ranged from websites to super ornate binders (Ali). The portfolios showcased how, even though we all completed the same program, we all had unique experiences that helped us develop as educators. 
Check out Danny and Lauren's awesome online portfolios: and
Kathie sits by her ISP creation which can be found on the IslandWood website!
(Check it out!
The day ended with an extremely special treat.  The grads and the Ed team visited the home of IslandWood’s founders Debbie and Paul Brainerd.  Debbie hosted a beautiful lunch that can be summed up by Chuck’s exclamation: “This is even nicer than my wedding!” After a year of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it was extremely rewarding to be treated like royalty for an afternoon. We shared stories and hugs with Debbie - before it was time to hang with our families before the BIG DAY!
Bonnie, Danny, and Karen engage in intense discussion at the luncheon
Kat and Cassie naturalize at the beach in front of the Brainerds
The UH-mazing spread!
Empty plates and happy hearts
We hang with kids all day - don't judge.
Part two coming soon! (Don't worry - it's already in the works)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Make a Difference Summit

School Overnight Program alums reunited with IslandWood on May 25th at KCTS Studios in Seattle for the annual Make a Difference Summit. Students from JDS, St. Edwards, Bailey Gatzert, Evergreen, Kimball and John Muir elementary schools showed off their continued acts of stewardship as they shared with the group all of the hard work they have done in their communities over the past few weeks and months.

Planting gardens was just one of the many impressive and awe-inspiring projects presented by JDS
After a warm welcome from John Haskin - IW's Director of Education, KCTS' Community Outreach Coordinator Tony Gomez, and State Farm's (a company whose generous donations made the event possible!) Nancy Carpenter, JDS were the first school to share their work. We were captivated by the persuasive essays they wrote to different businesses and organizations, the incredible fundraising projects they overtook, and the support they showed for local animal shelters and food shelters.

Students wait for their moment to shine at the amazing KCTS Studios
St. Edwards shared the work they put into their school's garden (IW Grad '11 Laura Goff was there to help!), the story of beginning family-style dining in their lunch room, and presented some top notch research on what kind of water system would be best for their garden. Ask St. Edwards if PVC, copper, or galvanized pipes work best!

St. Edwards students can tell you ANYTHING you need to know about water systems! 
John Muir dressed up for the big day - and they looked great! We were so excited to hear about the strenuous ivy pulling they did at Seward Park with the Mountaineering Club of Seattle. John Muir students became ivy experts and made a difference in ridding the area of this invasive!

Ever so professional, John Muir shares their struggle and success with English ivy
Randy Komatsu, IW's School Partnerships Coordinator, was an incredible host and left the kids with a story that paints a brilliant picture of the value of these students' work: 

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realise that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

"It made a difference for that one."
Thanks to all the students for their lasting stewardship and the differences they continue to make in their communities.