When you ask adults about Woodlawn, you most likely hear about the Black House and the trails. Ask area school children about Woodlawn and you will learn very quickly that it is a cool place of discovery that offers really neat learning programs that they just love.
During the 2015 regular season at Woodlawn, (May 1 to October 31) 647 students visited the estate to participate in learning activities specifically designed for their age groups. According to Woodlawn’s executive director Joshua Torrance, “We have had preschoolers to 8th graders, from fifteen different communities, come and use Woodlawn as a classroom so far this year. The curriculum used for their visits has been developed over several years by our director of education and program development, Anne Russenberger- Keefe in conjunction with area school teachers, educators and community partners.”
Hundreds of students, 389 to be exact, attended 5th & 6th grade Fall Field Days, Maine History and Heritage Apples held in October and 7th & 8th grade Spring Field Days, Innovations in Science held in June. The Spring Field Days partners were the Seal Cove Auto Museum, The Jackson Laboratory, MDI Biological Laboratory, and RainWise Inc. The Fall Field Day partners were the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and 4-H program, Healthy Acadia, College of the Atlantic, and the Abbe Museum. A true measure of the field day program success was shared by Torrance, “We were delighted when the Northeast Harbor 4th and 5th grade teachers called us a few days after our spring field days to ask if their students could come for a similar experience. We were pleased to welcome 46 of their students just a few days later.”
Torrance added, “While the field day programs account for a large percentage of the students that have come to date, several other initiatives brought over 200 more students to Woodlawn. In October, graduates of our 2013 and 2015 Woodlawn Teachers Institutes brought their Woodlawn specific curriculums and students to campus.” The 8th grade class from Blue Hill Consolidated School enjoyed Time Traveler Integration created by 8th grade teacher Kat Hudson. The 6th grade class from the Ellsworth Middle School experienced Then and Now designed by 6th grade teacher Becky Anderson and the 7th grade class studied Themes in Mary Ann’s Letter developed by 7th grade teacher, Janet Higgins.
Another unique program that came to Woodlawn in October was the Outer Islands Croquet League, a program for nine of Maine’s outer island schools. A number of the island students and teachers came to Woodlawn for instruction from the Woodlawn Croquet Program players as each school had received a donation of equipment to establish 6 wicket and golf croquet as part of their physical education programs.
Not to rest on its laurels, Woodlawn has plans to welcome one hundred 2nd grade students from Ellsworth Elementary School in December. Torrance says the Woodlawn School Program is a win-win effort, “We get to work with great community partners, wonderful students that are fully engaged, and supportive school administrators that help make it happen.”