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Why some districts still take Harvest Break

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 11:40 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Some kids are heading back to school, some will wait until September, and the difference is Harvest Break. Rhian lowndes learned why some schools stick with the tradition

Fern Desjardins is chair of the Maine State Board of Education. She was a teacher, a principal, a superintendent---but she is also part of a three generation farming family and grew up on a farm.

DESJ “It changed from the days I was picking on my father’s farm, to then on my brothers’ farm when it was 5-6 students working on a harvesters to now when there are harvesters  don’t need any students working on them”

While some districts have left behind Harvest Break, districts that maintain their early start to the year argue the positives. Larry Worcester says students learn more than a pen and paper can provide

WORC “They’re able to go out learn a lot. theyre around some really good people these farm families are really good role models for our kids and learning how to work hard and team work, being on time there’s a lot they can learn in the fields that they might not learn in the classroom”

And Desjardins says, as a teacher, she never thought the interruption in the school year was a bad thing

DESJ “I never felt I was impacted by those interruptions and then as a teacher who worked the harvest break, getting to know my students, then taking two week soff I could plan for my studetns, I thought it was good for my teaching I thought it was a positive impact”

But it’s not for every district

DESJ “We have to provide workers If it is needed I say that because I know farming has changed over the years”

WORC “Some schools depending on  region they have more mechanization and not as much need for students”

But for washburn, worcester says, it’s a win win

WORC “The farmers need that temporary workforce...they are some of the largest taxpayers in our community so we try to help them out”

There are some roadblocks. Parents have to find care for young children during harvest break, and desjardins says if a district has different start dates for elementary kids and older students,  some teachers like art and music teachers may have to juggle both schedules. But in farming communities, maintaining that farmer-student relationship is important. Rhian lowndes newssource8

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