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2013 Faculty Grants

Congratulations to the 2013 Faculty Grant Recipients:

Maile Black - writing sabatical in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia (Summer 2013)
Kathy Stewart - trip to Cuba with Cuba Educational Tour (Winter 2013)
Kim Tolpa - trip out west to visit two national parks (Summer 2013)
Jeff Wilfahrt - trip to the Island of Culebra near Puerto Rico to visit AbbieWhite, for whom he was a student teacher more than 20 years ago (March 2014)
Carrie Woodruff - trip to Puerto Rico to study and learn more about the culture, people and ecology (March 2014)

Highlights from 2013 grant recipients:

Maile Black, Grade 6 English Teacher and Advisor
Writing sabbatical in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia

Imagine a vacation for which the only requirement is that you stay put, no adventuring allowed. For a certain number of hours each day, no matter what temptations arise or what restlessness tickles your inner explorer, you may not escape. Instead, you create (enforce, if necessary) a vacation of the mind.

I was after an absence of stimuli. In a world of distractions and noise, I sought a level of quiet and calm most of us can’t find in everyday life. It wasn’t just about relaxing, though—not at all. In fact, the idea was to get going on a series of short stories for young adult readers, stories that will (I hope) be used both in my 6th grade English curriculum and to satisfy the thesis requirements for an M.A. in English. But I also hoped to get away. I mean, really get away. Get really away.

We (I was happily accompanied by my partner, Rod) needed to find a place we could plant ourselves for a month. “The Bosun’s Whistle,” our tiny cottage in far (far, far) eastern Newfoundland, was perfect. The porch overlooked a couple of fragrant beach rose bushes and the coastline we shared with whales and bald eagles. Sometimes (O.K., often) it was torture to stay at home every morning when the sun and seas invited us so warmly to come out and play, but the discipline paid off: I wrote more than 150 pages this summer and read seven excellent books (and two stinkers). Was there a settling of spirit? Maybe a little.

Because our ’99 Subaru broke down the day we arrived and was in the shop until the day—three weeks later—we had to leave (with a new engine and radiator), our adventuring was limited to where we could get to on foot, bike, or kayak. We had no access to the Internet and only very spotty phone service. Early on, I drowned my brand new Droid in the toilet, so we had no email. And when all the conveniences we so take for granted in our everyday lives went POOF, there we were, alone. It was…really nice.

The eastern coast of Newfoundland is stunning, barren and windblown—simple in ways that erase pettiness and grow the mind. After work each day, we’d hike or ride or paddle wherever the breezes blew us. The air was crisp and the people gentle. For the month of July, the Earth slowed down a little on her axis so we could pay attention to the lupine cycle of explosive blossoming and falling away, a microcosmic glimpse into the rhythms of our lives and the life of this planet.

Thanks beyond measure to the Parents’ Association for making this vacation of the heart and soul possible.