Gathering Gala - Paddle Raise to support Education

The Abbe's Annual Gathering Gala is fast approaching! This year, the event will be on July 17 at 5:00pm at the Bar Harbor Club. With both a silent and live auction, cocktails, dinner and dancing, the event is a popular one, and tickets have been selling quickly! If you have not yet reserved your tickets, but plan on attending, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible. Please call Hannah Whalen, Abbe Museum Director of Development at 207-288-3519.

This year at the Gala, the paddle raise will generate money to support the Abbe's educational initiatives. Abbe Museum Educator Raney Bench explains a bit about the work the Abbe does in schools around the state:

Abbe Museum Educator, Raney Bench leading an activity.
Take a moment and think back to when you were in elementary school.  What did you learn about Native Americans?  What grade were you in?  Have you learned something since then that surprises you, inspires you, or makes you question whether parts of the story were left out?  Do you ever wish you had learned more?

Twelve years ago, the Maine legislature passed a mandate, LD291, requiring teachers at all grade levels, kindergarten through diploma, to include the Wabanaki  – the collective term for the four tribes in Maine, Micmac, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot -- in the Social Studies curriculum.  Maine is one of only a small handful of states requiring such a comprehensive approach, yet the state has never provided funding for this requirement.  The Wabanaki tribes have been instrumental in developing a set of essential understandings that they want students to have studied prior to graduation and they have created resources and teacher training opportunities; they agree that many hands make light work and in order to successfully reach a state-wide audience, education partners like the Abbe Museum are essential.

Recognizing the need to support teachers, students, and the Wabanaki, the Abbe received a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services in 2012 to expand our educational outreach.  Partnering with the tribes and the state Department of Education, the Abbe is in the process of creating new multi-disciplinary lessons for students at all grade levels.  These lessons will be available for free on-line through our website, the Department of Education, and the tribal sites.  In addition, Curator of Education Raney Bench will coordinate 16 free teacher workshops in every county with a goal to reach 800 teachers with these new resources.  Each workshop will include networking opportunities between teachers and Wabanaki educators and artists to encourage connections that will last beyond the workshop. 

Each year the Abbe works with thousands of students and teachers throughout Maine, developing critical thinkers and building a more respectful and inclusive society.  Hundreds of students visit the museum in downtown Bar Harbor each year to explore exhibits and investigate artifacts, creating memorable experiences that shape how they think about Native American history and culture.  Teachers come too, for workshops, resources, and support from our staff.  But our education work extends far beyond Bar Harbor.  Abbe education staff and volunteers travel throughout the state, working with schools and teachers too distant to make a trip to Bar Harbor.  Our artifacts travel, reaching children from Cumberland to Aroostook.

Abbe educational programs are transformative.  Students and teachers are moved by what they experience through the Abbe Museum.

By raising your paddle the night of the Gala, you will help us match nearly $170,000 in federal and private funding we’ve secured to meet the needs of Maine teachers and students as they learn about Wabanaki history, culture, and people.  Over the course of this three-year project, we need an additional $120,000 to fully match the grant. You can help us reach our year-one match goal of $30,000 by raising your school-bus yellow paddles! 

Your impact will be evident:
  • Through lesson plan development and 16 free workshops and enhanced online resources, Abbe educators will lead 800 Maine school teachers through comprehensive training, relieving the teacher’s burden of this unfunded mandate, the Wabanaki Initiative (LD 291).
  • Connecting with 800 teachers means a direct impact of more than 10,000 Maine students who will benefit from their teachers’ increased comfort and competence in teaching Wabanaki content.
  • Ultimately all active learners in this project will benefit when stereotypes are diminished and critical thinking skills are developed, which leads to a more respectful and informed society.
Museums are education centers and it is our greatest purpose to ensure that a 21st century education in Maine includes the Wabanaki perspective and provides accurate and respectful content for classroom learning.  Your gift tonight will have a lasting impact on today’s teachers and tomorrow’s citizens.