Showcasing success

Over the next three weeks I’ll be travelling the state visiting schools and programs to showcase the Maine DOE’s strategic plan which we developed last year with input from hundreds of teachers, parents, students, taxpayers, and others. Whereas last time I was listening for ideas, this time I’m sharing the product of those ideas so we can talk about how to make this vision happen.

Like the last time, I’ll be taking to the road to see some of the best of what Maine schools have to offer – examples of learner-centered classrooms, inspired use of technology, and programs that engage students and meet them exactly where they are at.

I’ve actually already started this spring tour: I had the chance on Wednesday morning to visit one such program that is not in a public school – the Ferry Beach Ecology School. FBES provides hands-on, interactive programming to teach about the ecology of Maine and provides week-long residential programs and day-long field trips.  What I saw there was a program that engages students by taking them to the beach to learn how tides work, showing them how grass grows in the marsh, teaching them about food by growing it together. It’s a program that’s consistent with the idea, central to our strategic plan, that we want kids to have lots of opportunities to learn from lots of people in lots of settings. How can we make those kinds of opportunities available to more students more of the time? Not just through specialized residential programs like FBES, but in “regular” school. The answer is not easy but the challenge is worthy.

I’ve never seen a facility quite like the Ferry Beach Ecology School and I really appreciate the way in which it is a non-profit that partners with public schools and higher education and packs a boatload of learning (and fun) into one week.

I love these kinds of visits and from now until school is out in mid-June I’m packing in as many of them as I can. It’s both a learning opportunity for me, and a chance for me to be able to shine a light on some of the great work happening in schools (and outside school walls) all over Maine and showcase the kinds of programming we see as leading the way on the work of the strategic plan.

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