Learning from the Island with Tilghman Area Youth Association


Slow down as you cross the drawbridge to Tilghman Island so you can take in the beauty of the water and landscape around you.  Roll down your windows and breathe the crisp air that promises a spring soon to come.  Realize that some people are lucky enough to live here — and some young kids are lucky enough to go to school in the middle of this living bay laboratory.

Tilghman Area Youth Association (TAYA) is proud to partner with Tilghman Elementary School to offer the kids on the island unparalleled access to activities that teach them about their surroundings and help them appreciate the beauty of nature in their own backyard.

This spring, kids in TAYA’s award-winning afterschool program enjoy lots of outdoor time on our island as we get wet, wild, dirty, and have fun with special guest educators from many local environmental organizations.  We visit Phillips Wharf Environmental Center each week to see aquatic animals and play games to learn about the Chesapeake Bay.  The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Shore Rivers, and Poplar Island come to us with interesting activities about wetlands, trees, and island habitat.  A local Master Gardener and experts from the University of Maryland Extension continue to work with the kids to plant, harvest, and cook yummy foods from our school garden.

And we continue our fun programs on half-days of school with support from local artists, the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum, and Talbot County Arts Council with a special Arts on the Island day where the children will explore island landscapes through both plein air painting and photography.

TAYA also supports a variety of environmental science activities during the school day at Tilghman Elementary School.  Angie Asmussen’s third-grade students raise a juvenile terrapin in their classroom all year long, caring for it and collecting data for scientists.  In the spring, they travel to Poplar Island, just off the coast of Tilghman Island, to release their terrapin.  Teachers Lindsay Grow and Katie Fox (Talbot County School’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year) lead a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) night that includes a variety of science activities for families.  For the second year in a row, the school will host a week-long visit from a mobile science laboratory brought by the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation.

TES teachers incorporate many environmental science activities into their day, even without TAYA support, to meet curriculum guidelines and provide authentic experiences for the students.  They regularly host visits by Nate Bratko, with the University of Maryland Extension Service, who leads nutrition education programs.  Pickering Creek taught the primary grades about natural vs. man-made landscapes, and 4th and 5th graders will be visiting Annapolis on a Chesapeake Bay Foundation field trip won by Katie Fox as part of her Teacher of the Year experience.

The arts also support the environmental science messages at TES, and TAYA is happy to have the support of the Talbot County Arts Council for these programs.  Local artist Sue Stockman worked with all the kids in the school to design and create gorgeous silk banners reflecting the diversity of island plants, animals, and habitat.  And in May, Drew Anderson from Young Audiences of Maryland will bring his science-themed hip-hop and comedy to the school.

This summer, TAYA will host a week-long summer camp from August 13-17 that will continue to include ways to learn about and enjoy Tilghman Island’s unique location.  For information, contact Ann Farley, TAYA’s Executive Director, at tayadirector@gmail.com or 410-253-0967

Did you know that Tilghman Elementary is accepting out-of-area students for the 2018-19 school year?  Come for a visit and see what our fantastic school has to offer!  Please call the school at 410-886-2391 to schedule a tour and get more information.  Learning about the science and art of the island environment is just the beginning of the great things you will find at Tilghman Elementary.

Letters to Editor

  1. This is SO exciting and valuable for the young students of Tilghman Island. The efforts to include more students from the Bay Hundred area to boost enrollment in TES is a most worthy effort! My children were greatly affected by the closure of the Oxford school many, many years ago, and it eliminated some wonderful family / community traditions like the Halloween celebration! You can teach a great deal of inclusion, pride, and family strength by such small community get-togethers. Bigger is not always better in serving students. Being lost in the crowd lets more children fall thru the cracks!
    Strength and courage to Tilghman’s efforts to retain this very special learning opportunity for their youth and families!!! cj

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