About a third of students in the Martha’s Vineyard public schools — closer to 50 per cent in some towns — come from families whose first language is other than English. With immigration already a fact of life for Island children, retired Island teacher Lynn Ditchfield has developed the Borders to Bridges curriculum to teach it in the classroom as well.

“It’s an important issue for our Island and it’s an important issue for many, many other places,” said Mrs. Ditchfield, who received a Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship in 2017 to develop the arts-based immigration curriculum.

Working with teachers both on and off-Island, Ms. Ditchfield has designed creative activities for children in every grade, from kindergartners to high school seniors.

“There are 50 lesson plans that have several contributing educators, including many Vineyard educators,” she said.

Overall, more than 30 countries and 15 U.S. states are represented among the contributors. The curriculum’s activities include drawing, crafting, role-playing and field trips, all designed to spark conversations. Students might learn stop-motion animation, write and share poems or collaborate on an immigration-themed collage.

Along with the lesson plans, Ms. Ditchfield’s curriculum provides resources including poetry, short fiction, personal narrative and photography.

Island poet and photographer Justen Ahren is among the contributors.

“We have a large participation from other voices including some really well-known people,” Ms. Ditchfield said.

More than 100 teachers in Island schools have expressed interest in piloting the Borders to Bridges lessons in their classrooms, Ms. Ditchfield said, emphasizing that they don’t have to drop other topics to do so.

“There’s not one of them that isn’t for multiple subjects,” she said. “The whole purpose of the pilot is to be interdepartmental, to be interdisciplinary, to be interscholastic.”

History and English teachers alike, for instance, may make use of some of the readings from the curriculum, which include historical and realistic fiction as well as nonfiction writing about immigration.

“This is not adding something on top of what you’re doing, this is something to enhance what you’re doing and be able to address a subject that you don’t want to put under the rug,” Ms. Ditchfield said. “The big goal is to create more empathy, more understanding, more tolerance and less fear.”