We just returned from a week’s foray to Maine’s midcoast region, exploring Belfast, Castine, Stonington, Brooklin, Blue Hill, Camden, Rockland, Rockport, Round Pond, Brunswick and Bowdin College. Castine delighted us with its quiet lanes, colorful flowers, friendly library, Elm trees lovingly cared for (Elms being a rarity these days, after most Elm trees in the northeast were devastated by Dutch Elm Disease in the mid to late 1900s) and “away from it all” feeling.
THE ADAMS SCHOOL, CASTINE, MAINE
Nestled in the Town Green is The Adams School, a k-8 school of approximately 70 students. Peering in from the front door we spied a sign that made me determined to learn more about what appeared to be a close cousin of the one room school house.
The Adams School has a web site but as of this writing, the site does not load. I link to it anyway, in the hopes that when the school year resumes, the site will be accessible. The Pentagoet Inn, where we stayed, had a copy of last year’s and this year’s yearbook, which were filled with photo collages, one for each month of the year, plus a two-page spread each for grades K-1-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. In 2009 there were just four eighth graders!
You can get a sense of this small public school from Education World’s 2006 article (updated in 2009) Use Daily ‘School Pledge’ To Build Community. From this article and the yearbook, I get the sense that Principal Todd Nelson is a wild and wooly kind of a guy in the very best sense of those words. The school seems to be a child-centric, hands-on, experiential, community oriented place of learning. Of course, the entry hall sign may have something to do with my conclusion!
ON THE WATER IN CASTINE
Castine is also home to the Maine Maritime Academy, a small school of approximately 900 students. Besides boats for the Academy, kayak rentals, lobster and pleasure boats, the Castine portion of Penobscot Bay is home to the ketch Guildive, on which we spent a relaxing two hours as passengers, even spying two seals along the way! As you may gather, the water plays a large role in the life of Castine, and the folks at The Adams School participate in NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Adopt a Drifter Program.
HOG ISLAND AUDUBON CENTER, MAINE
Still on the subject of schools… Hog Island, in Muscongus Bay, is part of Maine Audubon. We somewhat stumbled upon Todd Audubon Sanctuary, the mainland portion of this hidden gem; somewhat, because my husband had read about it in a guide book and was keeping his eyes open for what turned out to be a very small sign that simply said: Audobon. The Hog Island Audubon Center has been home for years to summer environmental camps that included visitors such as Rachel Carson and instructors such as Roger Tory Peterson. Alas, as you can read on the Center’s home page, Maine Audubon is in the process of figuring out how to afford to continue with their summer environmental program on Hog Island, what with financial forces causing them to close down all but Project Puffin for the summer of 2009.
If you are interested in environmental education and have any ideas about how Maine Audobon can utilize this 330-acre island, I echo the request made on the site to please take this survey or use this form or do both! Surely in this era of sustainability and fresh food, there must be much we can learn by living on an island that is dedicated to self-sufficiency and exploration of the natural environment. What programs can be initiated, what partnerships begun, what educational cooperatives can be started to continue this long tradition of summer environmental programs?