Brooklyn private independent school

Eastern Shore of Virginia & Maryland

In the United States, many effects of climate change are first felt in the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland. Its people, economy and ecosystems are often among the first forced to deal with what other coastal communities, like our own, will need to address in the near future.

Every year, our 8th grade visits the Eastern Shore for a keystone one-week academic program to their study on this guiding question:

“As a member of both a local and global community, what is my role as we work to build a just and sustainable future?"

The year-long 8th grade curriculum at Berkeley Carroll inspires students to think about the role they will play in overcoming the challenges of an uncertain future. Faculty encourage students to become humanistic, committed young stewards who can face the realities of their world with hope, confidence and practicality.

The Eastern Shore Community

Located between the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay, this 70-mile peninsula has a unique history of development and settlement influenced by its complex and interdependent landscape. Its Atlantic coast boasts the Barrier Islands and Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge; the Chesapeake Bay coast includes a maritime forest, beaches, and a state park.

In the seventeenth century, the Eastern Shore had a concentrated community of newly freed slaves. Today, more than 2000 migrant workers, primarily from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, live there with few resources, to work the land and sustain the agriculture industry which is an essential economic driver for the region.

Organic and aqua farming have become important revenue sources for the Eastern Shore as residents revive ancient food traditions and invent new ones with great pride.

Curriculum and Activities

At the beginning of the school year, every eighth grader crafts an individual guiding question based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This question informs what they seek to learn on their quest through the curriculum and on this trip.

While on the Eastern Shore students participate in activities and conversations with different groups of residents, to hear how communities thrive through partnership or struggle to overcome perceived differences. They learn from local leaders, small-business owners, migrant workers and people of color about their sense of community and place. By walking together instead of observing from a distance, students build an understanding through empathy. After they return to NY, students use what they’ve learned to direct their own ethnography research of our community and work on a specific community action geared to helping others in need here.

Program activities include:

  • Scientific investigations of coastal communities.
  • Hands-on exploration and participation in local agriculture and aquaculture methods.
  • Focused learning experiences with local historians, community leaders, business owners and workers.
  • Communal meals and games with children of migrant workers.
  • Sea kayaking, beach bonfires, cook-outs and zip-lines.

This program is an opportunity for students to show who they are as they engage in the work of sustaining a community with mutuality and intentionality. It is fully interdisciplinary with supporting curriculum occurring in every subject. Read the blog.

This unprecedented opportunity was made possible thanks to BC's partnership with the World Leadership School, which facilitates our academic programs to India, Tanzania and Costa Rica. They created the space for Berkeley Carroll to design a trimester of work and a supporting trip that is unique to the mission and vision of Berkeley Carroll. They also facilitate their collaborative leadership program during the trip, which amplifies the curriculum.