Students Net Local Knowledge
Alma del Mar Charter School fourth graders are getting first-hand knowledge of our local commercial fishing industry with the help from the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center. Since March, Executive Director Laura Orleans has been a “scholar in residence,” teaching Alma scholars about the skills folklorists like her use to learn about and document local culture. Scholars are using these skills to study the local fishing industry. Over the course of 12 weeks, fishermen, lumpers, and gear designers are sharing their knowledge through classroom visits and scholars are doing fieldwork at a variety of shoreside businesses. The program, which is part of a unit on simple machines and the fishing industry, is being funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s STARS Residency Program. The STARS program (Students and Teachers Working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) supports creative learning residencies of three days or more in the arts, sciences, and humanities.
To date, Rodney Avila (fisherman and safety instructor), Jim Dwyer (lumper), and Tor Bendiksen (net designer) have visited the school. For each classroom visit, scholars are assigned jobs as illustrators, photographers, interviewers, and note takers. Fieldtrips to Fairhaven Shipyard, Scandia Propeller, and Reidar’s Manufacturing have allowed scholars to experience the industry at work. Over the next two weeks, scallop captain Chris Wright and scallop bag maker Mathieu Lemieux will visit the classroom. On May 21st, scholars will take their final fieldtrip to Bergie’s Seafood to learn about fish processing and to Eastern Fisheries where they will tour a working scallop vessel. The program will culminate on June 9 when scholars present what they have learned as part of their Expedition Night.