Written by Teaching Assistant, Anna Fischer
It was a Monday afternoon when 19 students and 3 chaperones from Epiphany School arrived on the Equinox, bringing beautiful sunny skies to end our 3-day streak of rainy weather. Coming all the way from Dorchester, MA this was the school’s second trip to Hurricane Island, however most students were first-time visitors. The staff were greeted with an abundance of energy as soon as the students got off the Equinox. The energy of this group had no lapses from arrival until the time they left 6 days later. At the beginning of the program nerves were flying - both from the education staff and the Epiphany school group. It was the Teaching Assistants' first program of students this season. The TAs had only being here for a few weeks and were still as much in awe of the beauty of this island as the students were. However, time spent with these students helped solidify their love of teaching and demonstrated the wonders and magic of place-based education, especially in a place like Hurricane.
All were attentive learners and although they proved very loud in their evening games of baseball, moments of discovery were usually followed with moments of particular calmness as they deepened their understanding of the lessons and of the island itself.
They built teamwork and communication skills during rowing and raft building, developed an appreciation for the wonderful marine life we have at hurricane island by exploring the intertidal zone, lobstering, scallops and aquaculture, and focused their efforts as budding environmental stewards during marine debris cleanup.
Although they weren’t from this neck of the woods, they jumped into every activity they were presented with, pushing themselves and their comfort zones by participating in Hurricane Island classics. For instance, although many started this excursion by saying they would never hold a lobster, once they stepped onto “Fifth Generation”(our small lobster boat) and learned about these bottom-dwelling critters, they needed no prompting to pick one up (carefully) and learn about its anatomy.
The Epiphany students weren’t the only ones in on the fun, Mr. Penny (Assistant Principal), Mr. Deleveaux (Lead Teacher), Ms. Ventricelli and Ms. Destrade (Teaching Fellows) tackled the ropes courses with as much enthusiasm as the students, providing excellent examples of what it means to climb to new heights and push your boundaries. Something really memorable was watching the relationships between the students and their teachers. It’s rare to witness such dedication and passion as the teachers and assistant principal had for educating and mentoring their students.
Hurricane has a way of teaching people things that they didn’t expect, whether it be where the best place to find crabs in the intertidal is, how to jump and scale over rocks, hold yourself accountable for the health of the environment, or simply how to gain confidence in yourself, we are confident this group learned a lot from their experience at hurricane, because we know we learned a lot from them.