Posted April 06, 2009
For a research project on implementing No Child Left Behind in rural schools, Nancy Jennings started calling school superintendents in districts that she thought she might like to visit. The school superintendent in Vinalhaven happened to answer the phone. That started what has turned out to be a long-standing relationship with the Vinalhaven Island schools for both Nancy and Bowdoin's Department of Education.
Her initial project examined challenges very small schools faced when asked to adopt educational policies aimed primarily at larger and urban school districts. But over the years the relationship between Bowdoin and Vinalhaven has grown beyond the initial project. Students in a number of education courses now do community-based projects in schools on both Vinalhaven and North Haven Islands.
The current principal at Vinalhaven is a Bowdoin alumnus, and other Bowdoin students, as well as family friends of Nancy’s, have become teachers on the island. The Department of Education, with help from the McKeen Center, is currently working with school administrators on both islands to increase the connections between Bowdoin and the island schools. Nancy is currently a faculty fellow at the McKeen Center for the Common Good.
“It was clear from my first day on the island that I had much to learn from the administrators and teachers on Vinalhaven, not only about teaching and learning, but about the importance of community.”