Maine schools make EdWeek innovation list

Maine schools have long been looked to as national leaders in education innovation.

That’s why I am not surprised that Education Week recently named three of our state’s schools to a list of those across the country worth visiting.

Among the 35 high schools named in Tom Vander Ark’s “On Innovation” column because they “personalize and blend learning; they challenge students with real work and ask them to show what they know” were Casco Bay High School in Portland and Poland Regional High School.

With its Expeditionary Learning model, Casco Bay “keeps the school’s goals clear, ambitious and essential,” Vander Ark wrote, noting the school’s juniors engage in a long term interdisciplinary project that results in demonstration of learning. Meanwhile Poland Regional was lauded for being an early leader in proficiency-based graduation.

In a testament to the power of great principals, it’s worth pointing out that current Casco Bay Principal Derek Pierce previously served as a founder and principal of Poland Regional.

Meanwhile, Messalonskee Middle School was named as one of the 38 elementary and middle schools worth a visit because they “achieve extraordinary results, create powerful learning experiences, and/or have created innovative technology blends.” The RSU 18 middle school was cited for the Learning Goal Time that students have every day, with a full two hours once a week to work on assignments and get extra help.

These schools have long been on our Department’s radar as ones to watch. In fact, we featured both Poland Regional High School and Messalonskee Middle School in our Center for Best Practice,  a collaboration between the Maine DOE and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, made possible by the contributions of the Maine schools that share their stories.

Congratulations to these three school communities for being nationally recognized.

We encourage you to visit our Center (and these schools) to learn more about the results their student-centered approaches are having on both culture and academic performance. And if your school or district is doing something dynamic that may inspire other Maine schools (like Portland Public Schools’ new Parent University), send it along to samantha.warren@maine.gov for possible inclusion in a future edition of the Commissioner’s Update or our Center for Best Practice.

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