Independent Study & Internship Program
(Note: Because of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, ISIP will not take place as it usually does in 2021, with juniors and seniors undertaking a project in February and sometimes traveling across the country or around the world. Instead, this year, ALL GSA students interested in exploring a subject in detail may arrange to do so at any time. They should contact Megan Flenniken for more details.)
Fostering a love of knowledge and instilling self-confidence are important parts of our mission, and since 1970*, our Independent Study and Internship Program (ISIP) has helped us do just that.
Many students explore careers.
After “testing the waters” in a field of interest, some choose to further their educations and embark on careers in those fields. But even for those who say, “maybe architecture isn’t for me,” the project is worthwhile.
Others “go deep” into personal interests.
In recent years, those interests have included automobile restoration, diving, glass blowing, musical instrument construction, go-kart building, metal fabrication, working at a nonprofit, learning about fitness, and learning to sing.
Most projects draw from our local communities.
About two-thirds of projects take place within an hour’s drive of GSA. That means two-thirds of our student participants make real and valuable connections to experts who live and work here. Every student who chooses a career in their ISIP field will have contacts in that field even before they leave GSA. What’s more, nearly one in five of those local experts is a GSA alum!
And give back to our communities, too.
GSA’s School Nurse Nikki Jaffray chose medicine as her second ISIP topic in 2004, and that choice led her to her career. Harlie Burke did her internship with Nikki, and now Harlie works at Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital.
*According to former GSA teacher and administrator John Greene, a program at Colby College in Waterville inspired the creation of the Independent Study Program by Greene, John Bader, P.J. Curtis, Colby Merchant, Holly Shaw, and Spencer Winsor, the school’s guidance counselor at the time.
Winsor’s daughter, Libbey Gulliver ’71, said that many students in rural Maine at that time had never visited a college campus, seen a factory, or even been to Bangor, and exposing students to new experiences was an important aim of ISP.
Other goals were to allow students to explore their interests and to “see if students could make their own decisions and be responsible for their own learning,” according to an April 17, 1970 Bangor Daily News article by Jim Verrill.
The four-week programs, Greene said, were mostly academic, but the article gives a better sense of the scope of the program that first full year:
“Some of the subjects studied,” the article says, “ were lung cancer, auto mechanics, free verse, pottery, electronics, secretarial work, newspapering, and carpentry. Some studied in school, some in local business establishments and others paid their own way to do their work elsewhere.”
Thank you, Della Martin '70, for sharing the article with us.A full description of ISIP is given to students in the fall and is published on our Google GSA Students site, which students can access when logged into their school Google accounts. Participation in ISIP requires parental consent and academic eligibility.