OWWCC 2010 Summer Institute




Three generations of current and former Bainbridge Islanders spend an afternoon with current Bainbridge Island teachers sharing stories of life before, during and after WWII, at Sakai Intermediate School, during our OWWCC 2010 Summer Institute.   

The OWWCC Summer Institute was conceived to assist educators (formal and non-formal) in enriching their teaching and learning while finding more meaningful ways to bridge classroom and community around local-global topics of study. This professional learning experience is a rarely afforded opportunity to be in a dedicated professional learning community around a common topic of study we, as educators, feel responsible for in our curriculum and community.Japanese Americans whose families founded some of the original and largest berry farms on Bainbridge Island talk with visiting educators at historic Suyemastu Farm.

2010 OWWCC Summer Institute

During the summer of 2010, The Only What We Can Carry Project at Global Source Education organized a locally grown summer institute on teaching and learning about the experience of Japanese American exclusion during WWII and its impact on the community of Bainbridge Island.

This inaugural professional development experience was open to 20 Bainbridge elementary and secondary educators, starting with schools within the Bainbridge Island School District, followed by local independent schools. This was a rarely afforded opportunity to be in dedicated professional learning community around a common topic of study we, as local educators, feel responsible for in our curriculum and community.

We aimed to anchor and sustain a legacy, lessons and learning surrounding the experience of internment and WWII in our schools and community for this and future generations.

This program was situated among the many historical sites on Bainbridge Island that can bridge classroom and community in how we can bring this topic of study to life for our students. We toured sites on Bainbridge Island that can help us bring history to life for students, from homes, businesses and farms, to Taylor Ave and the Memorial, to Bainbridge Historical Museum and Sakai Intermediate School.

The summer institute was organized around the following guiding questions:

• What can the study of the Japanese American exclusion during WWII on Bainbridge Island teach us about inclusion, citizenship, and community – past, present, and future?

• How can Bainbridge Island serve as a landscape for learning and its community as curriculum to help enrich and enliven local, regional and global education?

• How often to we, as educators, get the opportunity to teach some of the more essential lessons about freedom, diversity, human rights, and democracy using a living community as a case study and our school’s backyard as a classroom?

• How can our own lived experiences with this topic of study cultivate a more lived curriculum for our students and community?

• How can this arena of education help us build stronger bridges between classrooms and community and stronger school-community relationships around issues of inclusion, exclusion, citizenship and culture?

Institute program description:
– Day One: Understanding the Content and Context –

Through engaging with the living voices who lived through this era, interacting with primary and secondary sources, and touring Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, we will learn about the history and heritage of Bainbridge Island, examine the larger context surrounding WWII, and examine its impact on this Island community.


Former Bainbridge Island middle school students talk with current Bainbridge Island middle school teachers
about their memories of war and internment and its impact on the experience of youth.

– Day Two: Getting to Know the Community –
Three generations of current and former Bainbridge Islanders will share their family stories of growing up on Bainbridge before, during and after WWII. We will tour the rich and abundant historical sites of Bainbridge Island with long time residents as your tour guide, including Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, Historic Suyematsu Farm, Old Port Blakely Mill. Participants will share, explore and learn ways to make the community part of their curriculum.

– Day Three: Making Curriculum –
How do bring what we have learned back to our own classrooms, schools, museums, cultural institutions and heritage sites? We will discuss pedagogical dimensions and curricular applications, look at existing models and resources, and offer participants the opportunity to work on their own educational plans and objectives for the coming school year.

Our Experience

In August 2010, just before the start of the school year, a team of OWWCC staff and volunteers organized a locally grown summer institute around the central questions that are informing the work of this project:

• What can the study of the exclusion for Bainbridge Islanders during WWII teach us about our community before, during and since?

• What can this experience of exclusion teach us about the experience of inclusion that ultimately made Bainbridge unique to so many other communities that experienced WWII?

• How have our identity and values as a community been shaped and influenced by that experience?

The experience of internment during WWII is a Bainbridge Island story, not just a story of the Japanese American community. This professional development program was conceived to assist educators and schools in grounding a culture of curriculum, and to enrich teaching and learning about this local period of global conflict and crisis. The program’s aim is to study life on Bainbridge Island leading up to WWII, the experience of internment, and how it impacted our community and helped shape it’s identity to the present. The focus is on the experience of inclusion as much as exclusion, for Japanese Americans and the entire Bainbridge Island community.

A team of teachers from every school in the Bainbridge District was invited to enrich and enliven their curriculum through first hand encounters with primary sources – three generations of Bainbridge Islanders who grew up before, during and after the period of WWII. Through teacher-elder interviews, panel discussions, readings, and documentaries, participants learned about our community’s history and heritage from the living voices of Bainbridge Island current and former residents. Honored community guests included: Jacques Alloin, Karen McCormic Beierle, Reid Hansen, Earl Hanson, Frank Kitamoto, Lilly Kitamoto Kodama, Betty Walberg Kossen, Hisa Hayashida Matsudaira, Kay Sakai Nakao, Bill Nakao, Felix Narte, Vern Nakata, Wayne Nakata, Doreen Almazan Rapada, Toshi Yukawa Sunohara, Tom Thatcher, Mary Woodward Pratt, and Yae Sakai Yoshihara.

During the second day of the program, we sent teams of teachers, with community members as guides, on a tour of Bainbridge Island. Teams visited places like Blakely Harbor, the Memorial on Taylor Avenue, Suyematsu Farm, and the Historical Museum. These intimate tours locations like their guide’s family homes, businesses and farms. The tours were followed by district and grade level discussions about teaching, and learning, across the curriculum and grade level, and about ways to bridge the cultures of local schools and community.

One teacher shared that the summer institute helped her “to feel a part of the community. Hearing the elders’ stories and being drawn into their world helps someone who has not grown up here feel like part of the ongoing story of BI.” Another teacher reflected that this professional experience solidified “the desire to make sure that the students know Bainbridge Island history for their own sakes.”

Through partnerships that bridge school and community, we are anchoring and sustaining a local legacy of learning in our schools and community surrounding the experience of exclusion, inclusion citizenship and community, for this and future generations. In 2011, we plan to lead our third delegation to Manzanar and present our second summer institute for local educators. We are also working on a program for the Island community and developing a series of courses for local educators during the school year.

Our OWWCC programs have been produced as an act of community service to Bainbridge Island Schools. During a time of major budget cuts in our public schools, we have underwritten these programs through grants, donations, and volunteer time, so there was no charge to the district, nor tuition asked from participating educators.

Tuition & Budget:

This program was produced at no fee to Bainbridge Island School District or participating educators. We used part of a generous grant from the Walt and Milly Woodward Foundation to launch a fundraising campaign to underwrite the cost of the summer institute as an act of community service to our local schools and to provide an educational legacy to our children. So far the community investment has yielded a tremendous educational return at Wilkes, Breidablik and Sakai schools, as well as, enriched classrooms at Blakely, Ordway, Odyssey, Woodward and Bainbridge High School. We are seeking contributions to underwrite our 2011 program season.

This program was presented in collaboration with:

• The Only What We Can Carry Project at Global Source Education
• Bainbridge Island Schools
• Sakai Intermediate School
• BI Historical Museum
• BI Japanese American Community
• Multicultural Advisory Council of BISD
• Walt and Milly Woodward Foundation
• Town and Country Market

Feel free to contact us, with questions about the program, email or phone (206) 780-5797.

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