St. George Municipal School Unit (MSU) was recently selected as one of the 32 national semifinalists for the national Yass Prize, recognizing the “contemporary, inventive, and diverse in-district offerings” provided by St. George School. The small, rural St. George School was chosen among nearly 2,000 applicants representing 27 million students from every sector in education and every grade across all 50 states. Other applicants for the prize included private schools, education technology companies, national school networks, and educator recruitment programs.
The Yass Prize is a national competition with a mission “to identify and support more best-in-class education providers who can tackle the big education challenges of the day and deliver an education for students that is Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless.” As a semifinalist, the school receives $200,000, and the grand prize is $1,000,000.
The school was selected first as a quarterfinalist and now as a semifinalist because of its innovative CTE/Makerspace Project, a partnership between St. George MSU and Mid-Coast School of Technology (MCST) to construct a PreK–8th grade Career Technical Education (CTE)/Makerspace building. The new building will include a shop space for boatbuilding, woodworking, and metalwork as well as a Makerspace with 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, robotics, and sewing machines.
“The CTE/Makerspace Project grew from the requests of teachers, parents, and community members in 2016 to bring shop back to St. George School. It connects to the legacy of the Grace Institute, a local nonprofit that provided culinary arts and shop classes to St. George students from 1936-2011,” said Superintendent Mike Felton. “It took shape as the Makerspace Initiative in 2016. And it’s rooted in the generations of St. George educators, staff, families, and community members who prioritized hands-on/minds-on learning that engaged students and connected them to their community.”
St George has also received funding from the Maine Department of Education (DOE) to support the CTE/Makerspace efforts through a Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV) grant. RREV funding is provided through the US Department of Education and has allowed Maine to invest in education innovation across the state. You can read more about RREV here.
Governor Janet Mills and Maine DOE Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta visited the school last spring to learn more about the project and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree selected the CTE/Makerspace Project as one of only fifteen projects her office submitted for Community Project Funding in the federal budget.
Down the road in Port Clyde, Herring Gut Science Center was chosen as a Yass Prize quarterfinalist. This year, Herring Gut received funding through the Maine DOE’s Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative, a statewide initiative created by Governor Mills to offer immersive, hands-on, outdoor learning to middle and high school students across Maine during the summer. Read more about the Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative here. Maine DOE Commissioner Pender Makin joined students at Herring Gut over the summer as they learned about coastal habitats and species.