While the COVID-19 pandemic forced people apart, it also brought people together. For the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, the difficulties of the pandemic created a unique opportunity for the school’s students to go use the Island as their classroom — one of the school’s missions.
“It wasn’t just a year where we survived the pandemic, but a year where we thrived,” Assistant Director Scott Goldin told The Times on a phone call.
To capture that partnership, the school worked with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival to document learning moments throughout the year.
Every week students in grades 5-12 would learn through experiential, project-based learning that engaged students in interdisciplinary topics by going to different Island organizations.
Students worked with Island Grown Initiative, Featherstone, Slough Farm, Mass Audubon’s Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, African American Heritage Trail, the Yard, Aikido Dojo, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, MV Ice Arena, YMCA, FARM Institute, WMVY, Misty Meadows, and M.V. Mediation. Lower-grade students took trips to Polly Hill Arboretum.
During the excursions, students were made safe with masks, social distancing, and other protocols, with the goal of focusing on the kids’ emotional and social well-being in the midst of Zoom classes.
Director Pete Steedman, who spoke with Goldin, said the school is working on building off the foundation it created with the community organizations. He hopes to have students create larger projects in tandem with the organizations.
Steedman and Goldin also thanked each organization for taking a chance in the face of the pandemic, and keeping the education of kids at the forefront of their minds.