Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Out of the House!

On Monday, November 5th, I drove down to Freeport, Maine with Professor Aimee Phillippi and first year Unity student Ayla Blyther to visit a unique and inspiring learning environment. Coastal Studies for Girls (CSG) is a 16 week semester school for 10th grade girls. 

The day was a blast through the past for Ayla, who was part of CSG's Pioneer Class in the fall of 2011. CSG is the realization of Executive Director Pam Erickson’s decade-long dream to create the nation’s first ever residential science and leadership semester high school for girls. Pam (at right) had a lot of help along the way from generous supporters and other activists, but I think CSG was born largely because Pam had a vision and she never let go of it.
On the ride down, Ayla told me and Aimee about the many connections she sees between CSG and Unity College: the emphasis on science and leadership, the experiential curriculum, but most of all a shared sense of community. As we toured the "little yellow farmhouse" and the recently constructed yurt, I started to understand Ayla's love of CSG, and why that experience led her to choose Unity College.

I roamed around the yurt while Ayla chatted with Vanessa Jones, currently the Extended Programs Coordinator, who was the head resident advisor from 2010 - 2011. Much of the student work had a distinctly Unity-esque feeling about it. I noticed a lot of "we," and a lot of work that demonstrated student ownership of both process and content. Also, the bookshelves were full of familiar favorites.

At dinner (a very delicious dinner), Aimee and I got to talk with the fifteen current students at CSG, and we learned more about the program. We were both struck with how willing all of the girls were to answer questions, to speak up, and to ask their own questions -- must be that leadership piece!

Stephen and I are looking forward to building a sustainable, mutually enhancing relationship between CSG and Unity College. I love my new position as Special Assistant for College Outreach because it's all about making new friends -- and I guess we have to get out of the house to do that!