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News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 5, 2015
The Robin Bray Award
BHCS teacher receives grant for Civil War project

Robin Bray award honors local teacher

Robin Bray, a long-time teacher at the former Orland Elementary School, was honored for her inspired teaching.

Photo by Sharon Bray Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

The Robin Bray award, designed by the Wilson Museum and funded by Barbara and Bill Jackson, recently gave $500 grants to two area teachers.

One of them was Kyle Snow, a middle school teacher at Blue Hill Consolidated School, who will use the funds for a project on the letters and narratives of Civil War soldiers.

Robin Bray, a long-time teacher at the former Orland School, was “a great inspiration to teachers in the area,” said Patty Hutchins, executive director of the Wilson Museum.

Bray died last year of cancer at the age of 57.

“Robin was our neighbor and dear friend. As an educator myself, it did not take me long to realize from our conversations regarding her teaching that she was extraordinarily dedicated to her life’s work,” Barbara Jackson wrote in a recent email.

The Bray Award was set up to honor not only Bray’s dedication but her method of teaching.

“[S]he was particularly committed to experiential learning outside the classroom,” Jackson continued. “She went to extraordinary lengths to imagine and plan field trip excursions so that her students could connect formal learning with applications to the real world.

“With her untimely passing, my husband Bill and I felt there was no better way to honor her memory than to encourage other teachers to adopt this strategy.”

The Jacksons have sponsored a $10,000 trust through the Maine Community Foundation, with the award designed and managed through the Wilson Museum. Jackson is a former board member and a member of the museum’s education committee.

“The idea is to provide a project [and] to write a unit for classroom use to involve the museum,” Hutchins said. “It requires that the class will come to the museum.”

Jackson “feels strongly that the Wilson Museum is a terribly under-utilized resource in the region.”

Each year, the award will be given to one teacher from either Blue Hill Consolidated School or the RSU 24 district that includes Orland, Bucksport and Verona Island.

In 2015, its inaugural year, two teachers were awarded $500 grants, Snow and RSU 24 teacher Shawn Kenniston.

“I applied for the grant because I knew that the Wilson Museum had some excellent resources and opportunities, but had been thus far unable to bring it into my teaching,” Snow wrote by email.

The Wilson Museum’s collection of Civil War letters written by veterans will be part of Snow’s class project, as will documents from the Blue Hill Historical Society. His students will present their project at the Wilson Museum, and in Blue Hill, in the spring.