As I wrap up my year as the alternative education science teacher at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, I polled my students and did my own inventory of things that had gone well and things I wanted to change for next year. Our goal of the alternative education program at the high school is to offer students a “different, more personalized approach to their educational experience.” Through a “voluntary, collaborative, heterogeneously team-based approach that is student centered, supportive and open to new ideas . . . attempting to build and grow a community that promotes an engaging, hands-on experience where learning is celebrated and inquiry is an ongoing process.” Overwhelmingly what my students enjoyed and learned from in my class was the many hands-on experiences that would not be possible without the support of the Island community.

I wanted to publicly thank some people who make it possible for me to provide the kind of school we aim for in the alternative program. Thank you to Jimmy Flynn and the entire transportation staff for getting us where we need to go. Nurse Linda Leonard and the administration for supporting all our endeavors. Josie Kirkland and Suzan Bellincampi from Felix Neck for endless field experiences and making Felix Neck an extension of our learning environment. Thank you to Molly Peach and her staff from the Trustees of Reservations for supporting summer curriculum work, field trips and in-class experiences. Thank you to Jerry and Peter Goodale from Goodale’s Construction for a once-in-a-lifetime trip into the concrete pit, an in-depth look at the batching plant and sharing firsthand Island history. To Kaila Binney and the staff of the Island Grown Schools for making our school garden an amazing laboratory and helping to foster learning experiences through the garden. To Judy Thomas, Sally Listro and Jane Joyce from the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Early Childhood program for helping to connect the high school students with preschool students and offering amazing volunteer opportunities in a variety of areas.

Thank you all so much. I hope we can all remember how lucky we are to live here when sitting in traffic this summer.

Anna Cotton
Oak Bluffs