71 Maine Schools Begin BARR Model Implementation to Increase Student and Staff Wellbeing and Increase Academic Achievement

BARR Schools

Maine DOE Invested $10 Million in Federal Funds to Offer Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) Model to Schools. BARR is a Research-Backed Model Focused on Strengthening Relationships, Improving Achievement, and Reducing High-Risk Student Behavior

As the new school year begins, 71 schools across Maine launched their first year of implementing the BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) model with students and staff. The Maine Department of Education (DOE) invested $10 million in federal emergency relief funds to provide access to the BARR model for Maine schools. BARR is a research-backed model focused on strengthening relationships, reducing high-risk student behavior, and improving academic achievement.

The Maine DOE made the investment to support educators, students, and schools in recovering from the impact the pandemic has had on wellbeing, engagement with school, and school climate. The BARR model strengthens relationships between educators and between students and educators and utilizes real-time data to support students based on their strengths and connections to school. BARR aligns with the Maine Department of Education’s whole student approach focused on ensuring all students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged, and prepared.

Educators at new BARR model schools spent their summers participating in multi-day trainings with BARR coaches to learn about the model and adapt it to their school cultures. The trainings helped develop stronger ties between educators and between educators, administrators, counseling staff, and other school support staff who will form the school-based BARR teams and work together to support students and one another. They also participated in several interactive, hands-on learning and relationship-building activities that they will be able to lead with their students.

Here are photos from trainings that took place across Maine:

“Camden Hills has always been committed to helping our students transition smoothly into high school, and we are excited to do so in a coordinated and systematic way with the support of the BARR program. Now more than ever, schools need to reinvest in creating a safe and empathetic space for kids to flourish academically, emotionally, and socially. I’m proud to share that our reinvestment includes adding research-based BARR strategies to our dedicated teachers’ toolbox,” said Camden Hills Regional High School Principal Jen Curtis.

“Our [BARR] training last week was just what the doctor ordered. It helped to reestablish our commitment, our structure, and our process. The training also helped to guide a conversation about resiliency which we all need post-pandemic,” said Westbrook High School Co-Principal Wendy Harvey.

“I was just saying to our curriculum director that while I appreciate the contacts she has lined up from a school that is currently implementing BARR, we really don’t need them. The teachers and staff who attended the BARR training are our most compelling supporters of this initiative,” said Maranacook High School Principal Michele LaForge.

“We [BARR trainers] had a great two days with Sanford. The team of freshmen teachers was enthusiastic, excited, and super energized after the two days. Three of the teachers and an assistant principal were a part of the original freshmen teams at Sanford back in 2011 and they all spoke super highly of BARR and how excited they were to bring it back. I heard a few folks making connections to other BARR schools. Two teachers mentioned how much the lessons and resources have grown. Lots of laughter and smiles. All in all a great kickoff to their year,” said Rachel & Andrea, BARR Trainers/Coaches

“The training resuscitated my staff. It felt like we were on life support last year. Yes, we can breathe!,” said a school administrator at Narragansett Elementary School.

Studies show that the BARR model results in increased student engagement, reduced chronic absenteeism, a 40 percent reduction on average in failure rates after one year of implementation, increased student achievement rates, and a reduction in high-risk student behavior and substance use. BARR reports that the effects are strongest for male students, students of color, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, multilingual learners, and students with disabilities. Educators report increased job satisfaction and higher levels of collaboration after implementing BARR.

15 Maine schools previously implemented BARR. Noble High School first implemented BARR with half of its 9th grade class in 2014. By the end of the first semester, BARR students had missed roughly half as many days of school as non-BARR students and the school expanded BARR to include all students. Bucksport High School’s graduation rate increased by more than 15 percent after implementing BARR.

Last week, the National Governors Association (NGA) selected Maine as one of five states to participate in a new initiative launched to bolster the mental health and wellbeing of students and school staff. Through this initiative, the NGA will support the implementation of the BARR model. Maine will receive technical support from the NGA and their national and state partners and engage in peer learning opportunities with the other states chosen for the initiative, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wyoming.

Find more information on the BARR model here.

Watch a video featuring current and past BARR model schools in Maine:

Maine’s 71 new BARR model schools:


School District School Name
Acadia Academy Acadia Academy
AOS 90 Princeton Elementary
Biddeford School Department Biddeford High School
Biddeford School Department Biddeford Intermediate School
Biddeford School Department Biddeford Middle School
Brunswick School District Brunswick Junior High School
Calais Calais Elementary School
Calais School Department Calais Middle/High School
Ellsworth Ellsworth Elementary Middle School
Five Town CSD Camden Hills Regional HS
Gorham School Department Great Falls Elementary School
Gorham School Department Narragansett Elementary School
Gorham School Department Village Elementary School
Islesboro School Department Islesboro Central School
Kittery Traip Academy
Maine Academy of Natural Sciences Maine Academy of Natural Sciences
MSAD #46 Dexter Regional High School
MSAD 44 Telstar Middle School
MSAD 52 Leavitt Area High School
MSAD 52 Tripp Middle School
MSAD 55 Sacopee Valley High School
MSAD 55 Sacopee Valley Middle School
MSAD 58 Day Mountain Regional Middle School
MSAD 58 Kingfield Elementary
MSAD 58 Mt. Abram High School
MSAD 58 Phillips Elementary
MSAD 6 Bonny Eagle Middle School
MSAD 60 Noble Middle School
MSAD 61 Lake Region High School
MSAD 70 Mill Pond School
MSAD 75 Mt. Ararat Middle School
MSAD#17 OXford Hills Middle School
MSAD#49 Lawrence High School
Regional School Unit #24 Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus
RSU #34 Leonard Middle School
RSU #38 Maranacook Community High School
RSU #38 Maranacook Community Middle School
RSU #4 Oak Hill High School
RSU #4 Oak Hill Middle School
RSU #78 Rangeley Lakes Regional School
RSU 10 Mountain Valley High School
RSU 10 Mountain Valley Middle School
RSU 13 Oceanside Middle School
RSU 14 Windham High School
RSU 16 Bruce M. Whittier Middle School
RSU 16 Elm Street School
RSU 16 Minot Consolidated School
RSU 16 Poland Community School
RSU 34 Old Town Elementary
RSU 35 Marshwood High School
RSU 35 Marshwood Middle School
RSU 56 Dirigo High School
RSU 59 Madison High School
RSU 83/MSAD 13 Moscow Elementary School
RSU 83/MSAD 13 Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School
RSU 9 Academy Hill School
RSU 9 Cape Cod Hill School
RSU 9 G.D. Cushing School
RSU 9 Mt. Blue High School
RSU 9 Mt. Blue Middle School
RSU 9 W.G. Mallett School
RSU16 Poland Regional High School
RSU64 Central High School
RSU9 Cascade Brook School
SAD17 Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School
Sanford School Department Sanford High School
Westbrook School Department Canal School
Westbrook School Department Congin Elementary
Westbrook School Department Saccarappa School
Westbrook School Department Westbrook High School
Westbrook School Department Westbrook Middle School