Friday, August 5, 2016

REAL School returns to the district with a new principal, but the same philosophy - By Michelle Libby

This fall the REAL School is relocating from Mackworth Island in Falmouth to Camp William Hinds in Raymond. The school was divided into two entities at the end of the last school year, according to new principal Rich Meserve. The students who attended the school from out of the RSU14 district will be incorporated into the Brunswick school system and the students from Windham and Raymond will move to the new location in the walkout basement of the new dining hall at Camp Hinds on Plains Road.

“It will be strictly for kids from Windham and Raymond,” said Meserve. “It will be the same mindset and approaches, social, emotional, and environmental that we did before.”

Between 20 to 30 students will attend the program which features experiential learning taught by a seasoned staff with over 50 years of REAL School teaching experience combined. “There’s lots of opportunity for experiential adventure-based curriculum,” Meserve said. 

With Panther Pond, the Tenney River and the existing facilities at the camp like a low ropes course,
the students will be able to continue their lessons while engaging in physical pursuits like paddling on the river, said Meserve. 

There is also a plan for the students to build mountain bike trails to use and that can also be used in the summer for the Scouting program. The school’s hoop house will be relocated. These reciprocal projects will be used jointly by the Scouts and the students, Meserve added. 

“We will have all sorts of new activities to showcase their talents. It’s a fresh start in a beautiful spot,” Meserve said.   

The school on Mackworth Island was antiquated and had many issues that the new space at Camp Hinds will not have, said Meserve. There will be a little change in staff, but “the students know all of us well.” Those transferring with the school are three senior drivers, the administrative assistant, the counselor, three teachers and many of the AmeriCorps volunteers.   

“We believe in the child first philosophy. Smaller class size and increased engagement translates to bright futures for our students,” Meserve said. “It’s a big change and it’s hard to be away from those we’ve worked with. As we move forward we provide a great opportunity for kids in the district. We’re thrilled,” he said. 

Superintendent Sandy Prince toured the facility last week and was excited to have the school located back in the district. 

The space should be completed before school begins in less than a month.  

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