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I grew up and went to the one-room school on Isle au Haut, an island which is much bigger than Monhegan but has
about the same year-round population. I left to go to high school and college. I came to Monhegan on a fellowship
from the Island Institute, initially for six months, which was extended to two years. I was collecting data for scien-
tist Rick Wahle in the Monhegan Lobster Conservation Area which extends two miles out around the north end of
the island to three miles out around the south end. This is the territory where Monhegan lobstermen can fish. The
limited number of lobstermen and the known number of traps in the conservation area allowed for lobster studies
that would be difficult to do elsewhere. I also helped at the Monhegan School sharing a bit of marine science as
well as assisting in the classroom, and I helped at the Monhegan Historical and Cultural Museum to update their
“Sea Around Us” exhibit.
During the fellowship I met my future husband and now I’ve lived here for 13 years. My son is one of three
children who go to the Monhegan school. I’m still involved with the school, now as chair of the three-person
school committee. It’s such a great school due to community support, teamwork and wonderful teachers over the
years. Lately, enrollment has been very low, not just at Monhegan’s school, but at many of the island schools along
the Maine coast. Several of the smaller island schools have addressed the resulting isolation that students and
teachers experience by joining in a collaborative effort that we call the TLC, or more formally, the Outer Islands
Teaching & Learning Collaborative. This is possible through the aid of video-conferencing, other technology and
occasional face-to-face meetings and shared field trips. Currently teachers from six schools are planning curricula
together, co-teaching and supporting each other’s professional development, and their students are working togeth-
er on all kinds of academic projects, student council activities and even some after-school social events. It’s been
amazing watching the island schools learn together. I feel fortunate that my son gets to be a part of this.
J e s s i ca St e v ens and son Br owne l l
Chair of School Committee, Volunteer Fire Department: Monhegan Island
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