INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

What is your school, organization, community, or business doing to offer youth opportunities to learn and experience growth in new ways?

Let us know so we can build this page into a rich resource for learners, educators, and families across Maine!

Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV)

Below are some innovative pilots funded through RREV, an initiative of the Maine Department of Education. For a listing of all the recently awarded RREV pilots, click HERE.

Bath Middle School (BMS) is bolstering their signature outdoor learning experiences and integrating them with the school’s overall learning plan. BMS identified four key objectives: changing the schedule to facilitate shared planning time and development of teacher passion classes; investing in teacher development that aligns with inquiry and project-based learning practices, prioritizing the production of authentic, real-world, quality work; and investing in physical spaces and assets. Their goal is to make the school a dynamic place where students are challenged and supported to produce work that feels important and relevant to their future endeavors.

Belfast Area High School is seeking to answer this question: How might we turn a nationwide workforce deficiency into potential career exploration opportunities for students? Their pilot: They aim to prepare all Marine Institute students to apply STEM skills and practices in their careers and future education by implementing a half-day program that allows for both community partnerships and career exploration through site visits and STEM-related field trips. The RREV grant will also support a rapid expansion of the number of student internships.

Portland Public Schools seeks to extend and deepen outdoor and experiential learning at every grade level through curriculum integration, environmental literacy practices, and teacher capacity building. At the PK-8 levels, this will include place-based learning within the living schoolyard and some fieldwork exploring local ecosystems and their environments. For high school students, the Summer Credit Recovery Experience will transform from a three-week summer seat time model into a dynamic, experiential, and outdoor learning intensive.

Telstar Middle/High School in Bethel, Maine, is seeking to answer this question: How might we develop an experiential pathway that connects our local economy, environment, and culture to challenges of past, present, and future sustainability so that students contribute as active citizens exploring place-based career paths? Their pilot: The Local Ecology and Aspirations Pathway (LEAP) is a series of interactive, problem-based and process-oriented courses and learning experiences designed in partnership with community businesses, organizations, and local leaders.

Traip Academy in Kittery, Maine, received funding for a redesigned Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) with a focus on sustainability. In this uniquely collaborative ELO, groups of students and faculty work with industry professionals to generate ideas and solutions to environmental, social, economic, and historical challenges facing Kittery, the seacoast, and the world. The program is designed to empower students to study complex challenges and design solutions and approaches to a sustainable future, all while exposing them to the region’s heritage and innovations.

Additional Innovative Programs

Freeport High School is building a caring, collaborative school culture. Schools across the country have experienced upticks in student behavioral challenges over the course of the pandemic, and Maine is not immune to these issues. With Ed Forum’s help, Freeport is taking an unusual approach to solving this problem: letting students lead the way to real change. Read more in our January 2022 newsletter linked below.

Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, Maine, spent more than a decade laying the groundwork for multifaceted, student-centered reforms—including an interdisciplinary curriculum, project-based learning, education outside the classroom walls, and meaningful career exploration. To learn about the school’s successful practices, how they adapted in the face of the pandemic, and how other school communities can begin conversations about adopting similar practices, read the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s report linked below.

St. George Municipal School Unit is partnering with Mid-Coast School of Technology to create a K-12 Career Technical Education (CTE) Program and build a K-8 CTE/Makerspace Building. Working groups at St. George identified CTE as a top priority after recognizing both the desire of many students to learn these skills and the challenge local employers have in finding skilled trades workers. The CTE program is designed to engage more students and enrich their education while helping them develop the skills and propensities to find meaningful employment after high school or college—including in their own community.

Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) partners with schools and businesses to offer results-driven solutions with the goal of all Maine students graduating, attaining post-secondary credentials, and pursuing meaningful careers. JMG tailors its role with each partner to support curricula, cultures, and offerings by filling gaps that existing resources can’t meet. 

Nature-Based Programs

The Maine Environmental Education and Outdoor Learning Resource Directory is a dynamic and searchable tool that parents, educators, and community members can use to discover new environmental learning partners and collaborators in their area.

The Maine Outdoor School is providing students a chance to have hands-on experience with nature. Their programs are designed build student capacities for empathy, verbal communication, resilience, curiosity, fine motor skills, outdoor preparation, and much more through outdoor learning around their schools.

Alternative Education

The LearningWorks YouthBuild program in Portland, Maine, serves teens and young adults ages 16-24 who have struggled to find their way in the traditional education system. The YouthBuild model includes high school equivalency test (HiSET) preparation, construction and culinary skills training, leadership development, work readiness instruction, case management, and life skills. YouthBuild participants are paid a weekly stipend based on attendance and completion of benchmarks, and they can obtain important certifications including NCCER, OSHA-10, ServSafe, and more.

Wayfinder Schools gives students the opportunity to develop life skills, and in some cases parenting skills, in addition to earning a high school diploma. Tailoring the curriculum to individual student needs, Wayfinder offers a state and nationally recognized model of alternative education that uses social justice, as well as strength-based and relational strategies, to reengage youth who are at risk of not earning their diploma. As of summer 2022, the school is accepting students into its home-based Passages program and hopes to resume accepting applications for its residential program in the near future.

Tree Street Youth is a Lewiston-based community of youth and adults who use their diverse lived experiences to co-create youth-centered programs that encourage leadership, learning, exploration, and growth. A collaborative program of Tree Street Youth and Lewiston High School, Next STEP High works to re-engage off-track or disengaged students by empowering them to make an impact on their world. All Next STEP students graduate with a Lewiston High School diploma.

The edLab at Lincoln Academy is a small community of learners and teachers dedicated to rigorous academic and personal development through project-based, experiential, and individualized education. Started in 1991, the edLab is one of the longest successfully operational alternative education programs in the state, providing a challenging, supportive learning environment for students of all aspirations for whom the traditional classroom is not a good fit.

Please contact us with your program information and we will add it here!