Learning in new ways

This is our first education-focused issue, and while there are a million directions we could go and topics we could cover, this issue tells stories about how educators are “reimagining the classroom”—how teachers are reaching students differently, how the classroom looks and feels different than 30 years ago and, in many cases, how students themselves are helping to direct what their education looks like.

That’s the case with COMPASS Academy in Westbrook. COMPASS—or Creating Opportunities through Multiple Pathways for Academic and Social Success—had its pilot program this past year and all students involved have re-enrolled. There is a waiting list for year two. Darcie Simmons, one of the co-leaders of the program and a social studies teacher, describes it this way: “COMPASS is an experiential-based, hands-on program that is really good for kids who need real-world connection with the content. The kids we work with aren’t satisfied with being told to sit, take notes and learn enough to pass a test; they need to know why. Alternative education is like special ed; the kids don’t necessarily have learning disabilities, but they need one-to-one individualized strategies. We work closely with those who need that extra push.” Read more on page 21.

Forty-eight years ago, The School Around Us was perhaps one of the pioneers in Maine for “reimagining the classroom.” The school focuses on educating a person’s “intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potentials.” The school is run by the democratic process of consent—a format that is a step away from consensus. This allows the four adult committees that meet monthly—facilities, education, development and administration—to act independently. As the members of the community have changed, so have some decisions. For example, at one point in the school’s history, parents thought homework was a good idea, while the current parent group has decided against it. This holistic approach to teaching has been well received. Read more on page 36.

My kids have been out of school for several years now, but I remember repeating the mantra “it takes a village” many, many times as I was raising them. That’s the philosophy of a program called Side x Side, founded by Beth Wilbur Van Mierlo. Side x Side, a non-profit organization, encourages school administrators and teachers to work alongside teaching artists with the goal of enhancing the standard curriculum from kindergarten to high school. The program is about five years old and in the past year alone, 19 artists participated with over 1,800 students. You can learn more on page 24.

There are so many great opportunities for kids and their families in Maine to learn in both traditional and in newer settings. It’s refreshing and inspiring to read about all of these dedicated women who are working to better educate our kids. Tell us what you think—write to us at letters@mainewomenmagazine.com or send us a note on Facebook. Be sure to follow us to stay tuned to everything going on in between issues. Our next issue, all about decadent foods, will be out toward the end of August. Until then…enjoy this fabulous Maine summer!

Correction: Monica Litsas, a Tri for a Cure participant, was incorrectly listed as a cancer survivor in the July issue of the magazine.

Lee Hews

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