Gay Long: 2009

Fifth grade teacher at Pine Point School

Gay Long, a fifth-grade teacher at Pine Point School in Stonington, CT, is this year’s recipient of the Mystic Seaport Orion Award for Excellence in Experiential Education.

Each year, Mystic Seaport presents the award to a teacher who uses the educational opportunities offered at the Museum to create innovative and experiential classroom lessons.

“Great teachers are like constellations,” said Susan Funk, executive vice president of Mystic Seaport. “They help students navigate by pointing the way, leading them to new lands and then home again, wiser and more experienced.”

In 2007, Long, along with Mystic Seaport Director of Education Lisa Marcinkowski, developed and implemented a six-week apprenticeship immersion program at the Museum. The program, which also serves as the basis for an assessment project at Pine Point School, familiarizes students with historical trades and research in an interactive environment.

“This program is a testament to the power of hands-on learning, the power of being immersed in a historical environment and the power of informal learning in museums.

“This program has run successfully for two years and we hope it will be a model for other independent-school assessment procedures,” said Marcinkowski. “The apprenticeship program was also one of the inspirations for the Museum’s new immersion program, ‘A Day in 1876,’ that has been designed for public schools. And this is all thanks to one dedicated teacher’s wonderful idea!”