Category Archives: December 7

Testing the feasibility of what seems a ‘natural partnership’

As Children’s Librarian Sharon Moskowitz tells it, the idea behind a new, year-long pilot collaboration between the St. George School and the Jackson Memorial Library (JML) began three years ago with some simple trips up the hill path between the library and the school.
“It started with a modest idea where I made a weekly visit with a stack of books to one of the third grade classes at the school,” Moskowitz explains. “The following year the third graders started coming here for their library visit, just to exchange books. Then the fourth grade teacher approached me and said they’d like to do the same thing. So they were making weekly visits just to exchange books.”

And then the St. George School became its own Municipal School Unit and Mike Felton, the school’s new superintendent, came to Moskowitz with a question. “He approached me and said, doesn’t it make sense that we collaborate?” Moskowitz says. “And I said, yes, it’s a natural partnership. So after having some discussion about it [which involved the library’s board of trustees and other school officials], we decided let’s give it a shot.”

Sharon Moskowitz

Currently, Moskowitz notes, the kindergarten through fifth grade classes come down to the JML each week—the kindergarten through second grade classes come for their “library block” time, and the third through fifth graders come to exchange books. “The library block for the younger kids is 45 minutes, so allowing for travel time down and back up the hill, they are actually here 30 to 35 minutes. There are also days I will go up to their classrooms. We read a couple of books and do an activity—I love to connect an activity with the story, whether a science activity or something like that. It makes it tangible for the students.”

Moskowitz reflects on what she sees as the positive effect on the kids of actually leaving the school and coming to the library. “For one thing, by coming to the library the kids are learning how to enter a public building where there are other users, that there’s a certain element of appropriate behavior required, that this place is not just for kids. And if they don’t remember to bring their books back they can’t get a book that week, so they are also learning responsibility.”

Many of the students, too, Moskowitz notes, “are first-generation library users,” which is not unusual in a rural community and in an on-line culture. That means much of her focus is on showing these novice library users just what a library is all about. “We take a tour of the library so they know what the library can offer them. I try to let them know there are resources here for information as well as for entertainment and that we have computers. But I think that mainly they like to come and look through the books. And every time they come they have a better idea of what they are looking for and what interests them.”

When Moskowitz is asked about what she hopes will come of the students’ more intense exposure to the JML under the current pilot program, she speaks about both short-term and long-term impacts. “I want to see the kids coming in, having an idea of what they’re looking for, being comfortable asking for help, and really being happy to be here—maybe even coming in during non-school hours and coming with their family. I also hope they will become life-long readers, and that they will learn that when they go off into the world that in any city, in any community, a library is one place they can go and be welcomed.”

While the idea of a partnership between the library and the school seems a no-brainer—as Moskowitz points out, “the school and the JML have the same mission, which is to be of service to the kids of this community”—the reason for calling the new school-day programming a “pilot program” has to do with the feasibility of sustaining the new operation while also maintaining and, hopefully, expanding other youth-oriented library services. These include the pre-K and after-school programs, but also special programs such as the exceptional month-long “Leaps of Imagination” arts program for fourth graders.

“The support for the pilot program has been wonderful from both the school and the library,” Moskowitz acknowledges, “but the library is definitely going to need to find extra resources for it. I’m hopeful, though, that as more community people see it in action they’ll understand the benefit and help provide that additional support.”—JW

PHOTOS: Top, Betsy Welch; bottom, Julie Wortman

Sea watchin’ (part one)

Nature Bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen—

Long-tailed Duck

A co-worker of mine recently asked me what I was “on the lookout for” in late fall. I told her “seabirds and hunters.” Her reply focused entirely on the hunter portion of my message and was laden with “you better wear orange” kind of stuff (like I was born in Jersey or something!). I figure that she may not be familiar with “seabirds” or that she just doesn’t really care/think much about them. (The truth most likely being a fine mix of the two options). Seabirds may not be for everybody, I guess. But they are stacking up in a harbor near you just waiting to be observed!

Young Northern Gannet

“Seabird” is a loose, generic term referring to any species of bird that spends much, if not all their time at sea. Birds like tubenoses (shearwaters, albatrosses, storm-petrels), alcids (puffins, murres, guillemots), gannets and certain species of gulls and terns may spend their entire lives in and around the ocean, visiting land only to nest. These birds truly are pelagic.  Other birds such as loons, grebes and sea ducks nest on inland and northern freshwater ponds and lakes in the late spring and summer and then may spend the rest of the year in salt water.

Seabirds put a twist in the generalized understanding that “birds head south for the winter.” For these avian buddies, the coast of Maine may be their “southern” destination—potentially having travelled thousands of miles for the honor of keeping their featherless feet in the Gulf of Maine’s chilly waters all winter. These are hardcore visitors.

The “primo” way to observe sea birds is, of course, by getting on the water. However, many people don’t keep a boat in the water this time of the year, and some may even have had their sea kayak crushed in the “Storm of 2017” (that was me!). For those folks, doing a “sea watch” from land offers a great, and sometimes an even better, alternative for watching seabirds rather than heading out for a rocky ride on the sea.

Harlequin Duck

Finding a “comfortable” spot out of the wind and with a view of the ocean are key for a good sea watch. Places like Marshall Point and local harbors and coves can offer protected and sheltered waters for overwintering/visiting birds, often resulting in close views.  Binoculars are a must for sea watching—and a spotting scope can really expand your range of observation. Bringing coffee, tea or warming beverage of your choice is also highly recommended.

November was a wonderful month for observing from Marshall Point. “Standard” seabirds, species I saw on every visit, were Common Loon, Northern Gannet, Surf Scoter, Common Eider, Red-necked and Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser and Long-tailed Ducks. This is an excellent group to be able to watch on a regular basis. Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and Black Duck have become standards for coves and harbors as well.

And as with anything in nature, you never can tell what might show up on a sea watch. “Non-standards” or infrequently seen seabirds that I have observed from Marshall Point recently have been Red-throated Loon, Harlequin Duck, White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, as well as Purple Sandpiper, Northern Harrier and Bald Eagle on the islands and ledges just off the point. The sea watching has been great to say the least.

And with fall wrapping up and things freezing up north, sea watches should be getting even more productive as more and more birds show up for the winter, warming an observer to the soul even on the coldest days. It’s always the right time to be outside, so warm up some grinds, grab your binos and we’ll see you out there.

Fibonacci

Recently in math class, we seventh-graders have been studying some number patterns that are repeated throughout the universe. We learned about a young boy named Leonardo Fibonacci, who grew up in medieval Italy.  He loved numbers and spent his life studying them. He discovered that many things in nature follow a certain pattern. He is famous for his word problem about multiplying rabbits, that you may have heard about.  But we learned that you can see the Fibonacci sequence of numbers in so many things: the spirals in pineapples, pine cones, sunflowers, tree leaf growth. And ram’s horns, waves and nautilus shells also all follow the pattern!

 

To get the special sequence you start with 1 and 1. Then you add to get the next number: 2, then keep adding the last two numbers: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,  21, 34, 55, 89, 144, and so on.

To go along with our math, we did artwork based on Fibonacci spirals, which we made using the Fibonacci sequence. We also discovered Fibonacci poems: Poems that use the number sequence to guide the number of syllables for each line. In English Language Arts we wrote poems to accompany our artwork.  These will soon be displayed on the walls at school. Come on in to see them.

Maggie Gill is a seventh-grade student at the St. George School.

A migration of cranes…

The crane is admired for its beauty, and in many cultures is a symbol of good fortune, fidelity, loyalty, long life, and associated with inner and outer peace.

In Japan the crane is thought to be a mystical, holy creature that lives for a thousand years.  Legend has it that anyone with the patience and commitment to fold 1,000 origami paper cranes in one year (one for each year in a crane’s life) will be granted their most desired wish.

After a year of engaging in the practice of making 1,000 cranes, it is my wish to release them into the world and to share their blessings and beauty.  A migration of sorts…

They are $1 each, singly or in strings, to benefit the St. George Fire and Rescue. Find them at the CDC office, the library, town office and Port Clyde post office.

—Wende McIlwain

Letters

To the editor:
We want to commend Alane Kennedy for the super job she did in organizing the first annual community Thanksgiving dinner.  The process of bringing the community together—the food, the volunteers, the camaraderie—was just outstanding.  As new home owners to St. George, we were impressed with the caring exhibited with this event.
Mel and Diane Myler

A letter from The Dragon staff

Dear Friends,
As we approach the end of our fifth year of publication, we are celebrating our 100th issue. We wish to thank the many businesses and organizations who have supported us by advertising in our pages and in our online edition. We couldn’t do this without you! Many of our advertisers have been with us since the very first issue on May 9, 2013, which featured a cover story about the recent refurbishment of the Laura B, Monhegan Boat Line’s familiar ferry vessel (right).

We also thank our loyal readers, who engage us with comments, story ideas, letters and photos. We love to hear from you—keep it coming!

Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

        Julie Wortman & Betsy Welch