Katie’s Making Moves at the Blueberry Harvest School
Katie Francis, a seventeen-year-old high school student, has been making the yearly trek from her home of Eskasoni Mi’kmaw Nation, located in Unama’ki (Cape Breton), Nova Scotia, Canada, to the Passamaquoddy blueberry barrens in Downeast, Maine. She’s been making this trip with her family since she was a month old.
Her family arrives every August to rake blueberries. And although Katie says she has done it a few times, it is not really for her. What brings Katie back every year is the Blueberry Harvest School.
The Blueberry Harvest School (BHS) is a summer school for migrant children (ages 3-13). It’s designed to allow students to attend school while they are in Maine and may be missing school days and credits in their home states. The program is open to eligible children of migrant workers in Washington County, Maine, during the wild blueberry harvest and is made possible by Title I, Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Maine Department of Education’s Maine Migrant Education Program (Maine MEP).
Katie looks forward to the Blueberry Harvest School every year. She knows many of the kids from back home and likes the teachers, art classes, and field trips to swim, hike, learn, and explore they take every week. Last year she volunteered at the school, and this year thanks to generous funding from Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN), she was able to work as a teacher at the Blueberry Harvest School. Katie credits her former BHS teacher, Tarsis, with inspiring her to want to work at the school.
This year Katie brought some fun, new activities to her group (that she borrowed from her high school, Allison Bernard Memorial High)- Classroom Competitions! Each class competes against each other in activities like bowling or paper airplanes.
The newly introduced activities have been a hit so far- the gym was filled with cheers, laughter, and great energy during the most recent bowling competition.
In addition to providing her group with fresh activity ideas, she has been working on planning out daily schedules and events and working in the 11-13 classroom-sized school with her co-teachers.
After graduation, Katie hopes to work in social work or nursing; specifically, she would love to someday work with autistic youth.
- By Katie Francis and Corrie Hunkler