Islesboro Central School is one of the gems of the educational community. Located on Islesboro, Maine, an island located three miles off the coast, a person has to plan accordingly to meet the ferry, but it is well worth it! Welcoming you to the island is a sign that reads, “Islesboro supports education.” As you turn up the driveway to this gorgeous school you see what was originally a rock summer cottage (a.k.a mansion) built in 1928. Currently the school houses 96 kindergarten through high school students with 24 full time staff. They have an 18% free/reduced lunch rate, a 100% graduate and, 87% of students in grades 6-12 participate in extra- curricular sports.
When asked, “What makes your school great?” The Principal, Heather Knight says, “The students. They are hardworking and take care of each other. Since she has been principal of this island school there have been zero expulsions, and only two cases of bullying. There really are no discipline issues.” She also brags about her staff, “It takes a special kind of person to work in this island school. The hiring process is very involved: we include staff, students, and members of the community to be on the hiring committee. The potential teachers also have to teach a class to a group of students who have input on the person who will be with them for multiple years.” Because of this, Ms. Knight definitely has the right people in the right place on the bus!
Ms., Knight says that because of her and her staff, the students have a great deal of autonomy and choice of what they are learning. “A senior who was in the Horticulture Class last year decided her senior project was going to get Islesboro Central to have an ‘Organically Certified’ garden. To my knowledge, we may be the only one in the state!” The garden is run by the Horticulture class and supplies 100% of the vegetables served to the students at lunch on a daily basis. The farm stand is also run by the teacher and a few students during the summer. The farm stand has become popular and people from the Main Land will travel over to purchase organically grown items.
When I first arrived at Islesboro Central School, I was introduced to two high school students: Emma and Thia. These two extremely pleasant girls not only gave me a tour of the school, they were able to eloquently explain the history of the school and the beauty of the island. Some of the many things they noted that made their school great were: the rock balcony for doing homework, the fact that all of the students and staff really know each other. These two girls were able to explain to me a unique and fun fact about each teacher in the school. They liked the fact that they grow and eat most of the food in the cafeteria (including the chickens. One girl said, “They are so cute as chicks,” and the other said, “Yes, and then we eat them.”) They also noted that they enjoy music and art class. The music teacher allows for a music elective where they can learn different instruments (we walked in on a guitar lesson with two students and the teacher.) The art room has a kiln and a dark room to invite students to look at different types of art.
I asked their girls about their principal, Ms. Knight. They said, “She’s flexible, happy and she listens to us. Every day we see her she welcomes us. She wants us to succeed in whatever we choose to do.”
While I was visiting with the principal, a group of eight antique cars came to the school. All of the students were not only invited to see and learn about the vehicles, they were allowed to go for a ride around the driveway! I was able to go for a ride as well!
Islesboro Central School
159 Alumni Drive
Islesboro, ME 04848
Principal: Heather Knight