by Mike Felton
The St. George School Fund provides vital resources that help our school-community engage, challenge and meet the needs of all students. Inspired by Wick Skinner’s gift that launched the St. George School Makerspace Initiative, the School Fund helps fuel innovation, fund educators’ ideas, and ensure that St. George School continues to stretch people’s imagination as to what is possible in public education. St. George School is a community school and the heart and strength of our school is the community of St. George. This fund is evidence of that heart and strength—of our shared commitment, as a school and community, to do whatever it takes to ensure that every single student thrives and, in the process, gives back to the town of St. George.
With increasing demands on school budgets, including growing special education costs for federally mandated services, the School Fund has never been more important. I am pleased to announce that an anonymous donor has committed to match the first $20,0000 that we raise this year for the School Fund! If we can “meet and match,” that will provide us with $40,000 to fund projects that innovate, inspire and empower all students through experiences like the Makerspace Initiative and Educator-in-Residence Program; through hands-on environmental education projects where students act as citizen-scientists in their community; and through after-school programs that feed, nurture, and educate our youngest students while providing high-quality, reliable childcare for working parents.
Below are a few examples of projects that were supported by the School Fund this year.
• $7,000 for the Educator-in-Residence Program: The Educator-in-Residence (EIR) program is run by Kieve Wavus—the same organization that operates the Camp Kieve Leadership School. St. George 8th-grade students go to the Leadership School at Kieve each fall. At camp, students engage in activities and challenges that allow them to strengthen communication skills, practice positive risk taking, form and maintain healthy relationships, raise aspirations, and create physical and emotionally safer school climates. This is a key part of our 8th Grade High School Choice Program. The EIR program places a Kieve staff member from the Leadership School in a public school for 10 weeks. This person has special skills in the areas of social-emotional growth and experiential education. St. George School staff wanted to bring the EIR program to St. George to work with students on social-emotional learning through experiential education, mentoring, crew activities, after-school programs, and integrated lessons developed with classroom teachers. Funded entirely by the School Fund, the EIR program allowed us to bring Kieve Leadership School Counselor Ryan Ford to our school community. Ryan had a tremendous impact on our school through his work with students and staff. One day he would have the entire middle school circled up in the gym doing activities and the next he was mentoring an individual student. He taught—by example and through structured activities—leadership, communication, respect, and collaboration.
• $6,000 for an Island Institute Fellow to develop a sustainable, high-quality after-school program: Next school year, an Island Institute Fellow will help St. George School and Blueberry Cove develop and implement an after-school program for students in grades K-5 that (1) provides high-quality, reliable childcare for working parents, (2) feeds students healthy snacks after school addressing issues of food insecurity, (3) offers students physical activity and enrichment opportunities, and (4) supports students’ academic, social, emotional learning needs. As part of this effort, the Fellow will involve 9th–12th grade St. George students who attend local-area high schools. This will capitalize on local talent, provide a service-learning experience for high school students, and help our high school students remain connected and involved members of our school community.
• $1,000 for the Forest School Program: Working with our School-wide Behavior Interventionist, Amy Hufnagel, EIR Ryan Ford developed and ran an after-school program for 3rd and 4th grade students focused on leadership skills, community engagement, and environmental education. Students explored the natural environment around the school; engaged in activities that taught them about responsibility, respect, and collaboration; and even had a trip to Camp Kieve to test themselves on the 45-foot climbing wall!
• $710 for the 5th-Grade Worm Composting Expedition: This winter, Christine Miller, the 5th grade teacher, had an idea that would combine art, science, and environmental education to teach students about sustaining healthy ecosystems in the community. Fifth-grade students would observe and collect data on the process of decomposition by managing a classroom worm farm. With an artist-in-residence, the class would create a graphic novel about decomposition, recycling and supporting a healthy ecosystem.
St. George School received the Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA) School of the Year Award because of, according to the MEEA, “a demonstrated commitment to creating authentic learning opportunities for your students and engaging them in their environment as well as your clear dedication to reaching into the community to create real-world learning opportunities,” which made “St. George School a clear choice for this award.”
You can make a donation to the St. George School Fund online (stgeorgecommunity.org/donations/st-george-school-fund) or by making a check out to the “St. George Community Development Corp” Indicate on the memo line that the donation is for the “St. George School Fund.”
Please mail checks to:
St. George Community Development Corp.
PO Box 160
Tenants Harbor, ME 04860
Thank you for your support of the St. George School Fund and—above all—for your support of our students, educators, and school-community!
(Felton is superintendent of the St. George Municipal School Unit.)