Blog Post

Magnet School Innovations

by | Jan 13, 2021 | Educator Interviews

Kylie Bragdon, Head of the Maine Ocean School in Searsport is a self-described “Downeast Girl” who followed her family’s generational involvement with lobstering.  Sensing a need to provide educational opportunity to students who did not fit into typical district schools, Kylie redirected her passion to create  a novel educational opportunity for young people in Maine that foreshadows the educational transformation needed to best serve the economic future of the state.  In this episode, Aaron Churchill learns from Kylie how her own career path, from 12 year old girl on a lobster boat to a PhD in Education led her to her help create one of the jewels of Maine’s public education.

Maine Ocean Schools is one of only two public magnet schools in Maine.  Magnet schools differ from typical district  or charter schools in that they are selective in admitting students.  Rather than seeking the top ten from district schools, the Maine Ocean School seeks high school students who are interested in exploring careers related to the Maritime Industry.

Among the innovations at this Magnet School is the governance which is a variation on the standard “local control” typical of schools run by a school board.  This magnet school was founded by local citizens, including educators, families and business leaders who realized the need and opportunity for a school that focused on preparing students for this important sector of Maine’s economy.  As a public school the Ocean School is free and adheres to all the standards-based learning required by the state.  The curriculum offers flexibility in that students work closely with teachers to structure their curriculum with a focus on the ocean.  Course work is complimented by hands-on experiential leaning offered by partnership with a variety of businesses and industries across the region.

You will hear how this innovative school is threatened because of the workings in a State legislature that has immense power over the funding formulas that can ensure the schools success into the future.  Maine Ocean School serves as a leader in informing how high schools might better prepare students to participate in a rapidly changing economy.  Maine would be well served by legislators who do everything they can to ensure schools like Maine Ocean School thrive.