Presque Isle educator, student, planning academic event for children

Posted Aug. 19, 2011, at 5:32 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE — For the second year in a row a student and educator from Presque Isle High School have been selected for a prestigious scholars program.

Kent Smith, a senior at PIHS, and Mary Ann Warren, a counselor at the school, were among only 12 student-educator teams from public schools across the nation to participate in the Bezos Scholars Program at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colo.

The two were in Colorado from June 26-July 2 for the Aspen Ideas Festival. Now that they are home, they are planning to take what they learned at the festival and spread it throughout the community.

Warren said Friday that she and Smith will hold a conference they are referring to as Kinder College, in a Presque Isle elementary school this March to meet the challenge put to all Bezos Scholars to host a Local Ideas Festival in their own community.

“We are going to open it up to children in prekindergarten through grade two,” said Warren. “We know it is going to be in March, but we haven’t set a date yet. It likely will be in the Pine Street Elementary School.”

The Kinder College will resemble a conference for children, “with breakout sessions and other learning opportunities,” she said. “We want to plant the seed in them to be lifelong learners, and show them jobs that people do and what it takes to get there.”

Warren said that she and Smith want to involve all of the local schools and universities, and that it will be interactive.

“We are still in the planning phase, but we are really looking forward to it,” she said.

During the trip to Aspen, Smith and Warren shared private meals and scholars only conversations with retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor and Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach For America.

“We had a great time there, and we learned a lot,” she said.

Smith was not available for comment Friday.

Last year, Paul Elish, a senior at Presque Isle High School, and Jennifer Bourassa, an English and psychology teacher at the school, were selected as 2010 Bezos Scholars at the Aspen Institute.

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