Sharing ideas about education, presentations of expeditions, and meals in the dining hall—all in a days work for Bowdoin education students and students from North Haven Community School.
Seventeen Bowdoin students in the Education 301 and 303 classes ventured to the island of North Haven last Thursday, while eighteen students from North Haven High School spent two days at Bowdoin earlier this week.
According to Associate Professor of Education Charles Dorn, this exchange is known as the Island Schools Project. Though this is only the second year of this exchange, Bowdoin has been in close contact with North Haven High School for the past five years.
Prior to the start of this program, North Haven High School had exchanges with the Bowdoin women's basketball team. In addition, several pre-orientation groups have stayed on the small island.
According to North Haven teacher Keith Eaton, North Haven Community School is the smallest accredited K through 12 public school in Maine. With a total of 60 students, the school strives to provide its students with as many opportunities as it can. Teachers instill strong leadership skills in their students and allow them to do a significant of independent learning.
"We take five-day long expeditions in the fall right after school starts," said Leta Hallowell, junior at North Haven High School. "This year, we went to Indian pond and also went white water rafting."
Stephanie Brown, a senior at North Haven High School, said, "Every year we always have an emphasis on leadership. We explore different leadership techniques. We have to figure out a way to set ourselves apart from the group."
This year, both North Haven and Bowdoin students read about experiential and alternative learning, which served as the foundation for their discussions throughout the exchange.
When Bowdoin students arrived in North Haven last Thursday, they had the opportunity to see the high school students' presentations from their fall expedition.
They spent two days sharing potluck meals and observing how classes are taught at the high school.
The North Haven High School students arrived on the Bowdoin campus Monday evening. They stayed in the dorms of students, attended admissions and financial aid talks, visited the outing club, and enjoyed meals in the dining halls.
On Tuesday morning, Bowdoin and North Haven students had a classroom discussion about the differences between student-centered and teacher-centered learning.
Education minor Ben Lovell '10 is an alumnus of North Haven High School, so he had participated in the exchange from the perspective of a high school student, as well as of a Bowdoin student.
He described the discussion as more of a debate.
"The debate is over education and what it means," he said. "We discussed the purpose and effectiveness of things like standardized testing."
For Education 301 and 303 students, whose participants take both courses concurrently, the Island Schools Project had a substantial academic component. Students took field notes in North Haven and will use their findings and conclusions to complete a paper.
For the high school students, the Bowdoin exchange proved to be an eye opening experience.
"Coming from a rural school in Maine, there are things you can't do or were never even exposed to," said Erin Cooper, a student at North Haven High School.
"When you get into a place like Bowdoin, the diversity of everything is something you can't have in a small high school," Lovell said.
"We do this exchange with Bowdoin to help our students develop college aspirations," said Eaton. "Sharing classroom experiences with college students will hopefully show our kids that they are fully capable of being successful in this kind of an environment. It's great to be able to provide them with a vision of what that looks like."
"I know when I was in high school, college was sort of a mystery," Lovell said. "It's not to do propaganda for college or for Bowdoin. It's to show that North Haven students are capable of being in a college setting."
"This exchange allows them to see what college is really all about and that they can succeed," he added.