Cuttyhunk, the small island in the town of Gosnold, is poised to be the future home of a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Academy for students on the Vineyard and around New England.
The program will be led by Michelle Carvalho, the town of Gosnold’s only teacher for the past four years. Carvalho lives on Cuttyhunk for the 10-month school year to teach her only student, Gwen Lynch, in a one-room schoolhouse. This June, Gwen will graduate and leave the school without any students.
For the past year, Carvalho and superintendent Margaret Frieswyk have discussed keeping the school open for programs once Gwen graduates. Carvalho and Frieswyk came up with the STEAM Academy as a creative way to keep it open and offer more students the opportunity to experience Cuttyhunk.
Carvalho and Frieswyk put together a program proposal and got approval from the school board and Gosnold selectmen.
Students would arrive with chaperones on a Monday and be provided lodging, food, and transportation before leaving on Friday. Caravalho would work with each individual school to develop experiential programs for students that could explore Cuttyhunk’s unique geology, study its aquaculture, track weather patterns, and even have a unit on astronomy to observe the stars.
With official approval, the program is now in the midst of fundraising for its startup costs. Caravalho said the program has $47,000 in donations, and expects to reach its goal of $75,000. The program would be self-supported, with primary funding coming from the schools who send their students, with an estimated cost of $400 to $600 per child.
Frieswyk said the indoor/outdoor classroom will offer students a great experience to study the ecological and biological “richness of the Island.”
“Michelle will be our onsite teacher, and she is a marvelous, well-versed, competent teacher. It would give students the opportunity to study with a remarkable educator for a week,” Frieswyk said.
Carvalho will begin reaching out to schools to begin developing programs. If all goes well, the program’s first students could arrive on Cuttyhunk shores this fall.
“Cuttyhunk is truly a microcosm of what a community is,” Carvalho said. “It’s a beautiful place, it’s a unique experience.”