OUT Maine’s Educator in Residence: Jess
I’m three weeks into EIR, and what a great three weeks it’s been. My EIR placement is slightly unusual. Rather than teaching at a school, I’m spending ten weeks working on a project in conjunction with OUT Maine. By the end of the season, I’ll have written a “best-practices guide” to accommodating LGBTQ youth in residential education/camp programs. This type of guide is needed because so many residential programs such as TLS or summer camp take place in historically binary spaces, which can deter LGBTQ youth from participating. By writing a concise and straightforward guidebook that addresses this issue, we hope that institutions and individual staff can confidently take steps, however small or large, to make their residential programming more inclusive.
Despite spending my third week of EIR away from OUT in order to run vets camp at Kieve, I feel that I’m in a good place with my project. With the help of Jess Anderson and my site mentors (Sue Campbell and Jeanne Dooley), I’ve come up with a fairly concrete outline for the best practices guide itself. I’m hoping to have the majority of the guide written by the third week of February, which will leave a few weeks at the end of EIR for editing.
In addition to this major project, I’ve also been working with Lane Sturtevant, OUT’s youth engagement coordinator. Lane works with school GSTA (gay/straight/trans alliance) groups throughout the midcoast and I’ve been able to tag along with them a few times. I attended an exciting gathering at Mt. View last Friday, during which the Mt. View GSTA hosted a party with the Troy Howard GSTA. Overall, there were around 20 kids! We ran a few icebreakers with the group, including “Commonalities,” and also helped facilitate a discussion with their teachers about how each school can move their GSTA forward.
I also spent this past Monday visiting Harpswell Coastal Academy with Lane to meet with their newly-formed SAGA (Sexuality And Gender Acceptance) group. We had a lunchtime meeting with about 10 middle school kids and the two teachers advising the group, during which I lead an LGBTQ version of “Community Maps.” After an introductory discussion on what community means and where it can exist, I asked the group to draw a map of the LGBTQ community. They handled the challenge very well, considering the conceptual nature of the task and the fact that most of the students were 6th graders. The end result was slightly disheartening, as the majority of their map consisted of threats faced by the community (albeit with large “X”s crossing them all out), which surrounded a small globe representing peace, safety, and rainbows. However, the activity sparked an insightful discussion about how to protect the community from negative influences and keep its members safe. I’d like to repeat this activity with other groups and create a small portfolio of TLS activities adapted for LGBTQ students.
Additionally, I’ve been spending time at OUT’s youth group. Every Wednesday from 3-5pm, 8-10 “regulars” from the area drop in and hang out. The time is somewhat informal and relaxed, but Lane often structures the hang-outs with activities that teach LGBTQ history or help the group plan future events. I will be attending and helping to facilitate a youth group overnight in February, as well as probably hosting a drag show or two in the near future. I love connecting with the youth group because almost all the participants are kids that I’ve known or met through the many Youth Leadership Retreats I’ve been part of over the years at Kieve. Two of the current high schoolers were even part of one of my TLS classes three years ago, and it’s great to have seen their growth over the course of that many years.
South Bristol’s Educator in Residence: Cam
When I first came back to The Leadership School in the fall of 2018, I was looking forward to working with an Educator in Residence school. Being one of the original 7 EIR’s in 2013 it has been amazing to see how far this program has come, and how the schools have embraced the message of Kieve-Wavus Education.
Being partnered with South Bristol School was a welcoming experience from the beginning. The teachers and staff have made me feel right at home and have supported me with their students goals. From working on communication skills to creating new games, I am never bored at South Bristol School.
Wednesdays and Thursdays are when I am at South Bristol School. In those two days I see every class at least twice. Wednesday starts with the 7th and 8th grade class, we are developing a new game that I can take back to The Leadership School to play. From there I jump into the lower grades and get to work on our communication skills and what it means to be a part of a team. The 5th and 6th grade wrap my Wednesdays up by helping with their Tech block.
Thursdays I have an opportunity to float and observe a bit more. I mainly stay engaged in PE and Art, able to jump in with a quick Experiential Education activity or draw my dream house with the 3rd and 4th grade.
I love coming to school and being greeted by everyone. I can’t wait to see South Bristol at The Leadership School this spring to show them how everything we will work on this winter will come in handy more than just in their classrooms.