Three schools to represent Maine at innovation conference

Schools will share successful strategies with colleagues from across New England

AUGUSTA – Three Maine secondary schools—Deer Isle-Stonington High School, Hall-Dale Middle/High School (Farmingdale), and Westbrook High School—have been invited to represent their state at a regional conference on effective strategies for improving teaching and learning in the 21st century.

The conference, High School Redesign in Action, will take place March 22–23, 2012, in Norwood, Mass. It is sponsored by the New England Secondary School Consortium, a regional partnership committed to high school innovation, in collaboration with the departments of education for Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. All the selected schools have made significant progress raising student achievement, graduation rates, college-enrollment numbers, or other indicators of educational success.

“We are moving toward a more learner-centered education system, and it is our schools who are leading the way,” said Stephen Bowen, Maine’s commissioner of education. “Our schools are displaying leadership, forging the path, and sharing what they learn with others. We not only applaud their work, but are anxious to help them share those best practices across the state and beyond.”

In Maine, the Davis Family Foundation has provided funding to support six Maine high schools—including the three presenting schools—as an extension of the New England Secondary School Consortium’s League of Innovative Schools initiative, a multistate network of secondary schools working together to improve their programs and performance. The League’s goal is to promote the exchange of best practices and innovative improvement strategies throughout the region.

In March 2010, Deer Isle-Stonington High School was named one of the state’s 10 “persistently low-achieving schools,” even though bold transformation work was already underway. Over the past two years, a persistent belief in the power of teacher leadership and professional learning communities—teachers working together to improve instruction and student performance—and unwavering focus on data-driven improvement is beginning to produce measurable results for the school. Three teachers and the school principal will present: “You can get there from here: using data, PLCs and teacher leadership to drive school improvement.”

Hall-Dale Middle/High School is working to become a true student-centered learning environment.  Students are given the opportunity to play a role in designing their own educational experiences, and the school is working to add additional learning opportunities for students both inside and outside the school walls. A challenging senior project is now a graduation requirement for all students, and an intensive, two-semester course helps students complete a multifaceted senior project driven by their interests and passions.  Teachers and leaders from the school will present: “Proficiency for all: using standards-based reporting, senior capstones, and student-centered learning to achieve your goals.”

Incoming freshmen at Westbrook High School are welcomed to the high school by a purposefully designed program aimed at encouraging future aspirations and promoting interdisciplinary learning opportunities. A “Freshman Teaming Program” provides personalized support to students who might be struggling with the increased demands of high school—a strategy that can significantly reduce course failures and dropouts during the early years of high school. Teachers from the school will speak on “Getting off on the right foot: launching freshmen success.”

The New England Secondary School Consortium is a regional partnership working to advance forward-thinking innovations in secondary education that will empower the next generation of citizens, workers, and leaders. The Consortium’s goal is to ensure that every public high school student receives an education that prepares them for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century. The Consortium is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the largest philanthropy in New England focused exclusively on education, and it is coordinated by the Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit educational-support organization based in Portland. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has committed more than $2 million to support the Consortium, which includes $1 million in partnership grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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David Connerty-Marin | Maine Department of Education | 207-624-6880
Mark Kostin | New England Secondary School Consortium | 207-318-3780