A Different Kind of School Visit
My family and I spend a chunk of each summer on Peaks Island in Maine. Peaks is one of several year-round island communities in Casco Bay. It’s hard to believe, but most of the islands in Casco Bay are part of the city of Portland. And, several of these charming islands have elementary schools that are part of Portland Public Schools.
Last week, my friend, Peter Bridgford, "Bridge", treated us to a little island cruise on his boat, The Sound. We left Peaks Island before lunch time and motored over to Cliff Island. Bridge and his wife, Celeste, have been living and working in Casco Bay for about twenty years. When we docked at Cliff, we were greeted by a number of old friends, including one of the former teachers in Cliff’s one-room schoolhouse. (That’s right – there are still one-room school houses in the US!).
The school on Cliff was established in 1880. It just so happens that Bridge was once the teacher at Monhegan Island’s one-room schoolhouse (one of the more remote islands). After a long teaching career, he became a successful novelist.
After we ate sandwiches (I had to get the lobster roll) from the little restaurant right by the ferry dock on Cliff, we took a walking tour of the island, wandering on the sandy dirt roads. In late July, it’s full of deeply tanned teenagers on bikes, young parents with babies slathered in sunscreen, and fisherman and lobstermen who live there year-round.
We walked to the tiny one-room schoolhouse and poked around. It was locked up for the summer.
A group of young children were playing basketball on the playground behind the school.
The bike rack beside the school was empty, waiting for the students to return in September.
The year-round population on the Casco Bay Islands has been declining for years; this past year, there were only seven students in the one-room schoolhouse, grades PreK-5. Once the students reach middle school, they take an early morning ferry boat into Portland and a bus to the public middle school.
How times have changed—to imagine a one-room schoolhouse. As a former middle school English teacher, I think of how nice it might be to teach and learn in such an intimate classroom setting.
Erin Brady serves a dual role as Co-Director of Private Client Services and one of Bennett’s Global Team Leads, supporting Bennett’s consultants in Canada and parts of the U.S. In the latter, she oversees consultants working with families relocating to Greater New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Phoenix, and Toronto. She also serves as the Bennett International liaison for a leading global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm in New York. Erin joined Bennett in 2006 and has worn many hats over the years, consulting with families relocating to areas throughout the U.S and to non-U.S. locations; she eventually focused on U.S. boarding school and New York city placements, PreK through grade 12, though she was frequently called on for other tasks such as co-managing special projects and serving as the Senior Account Representative for a large Global Relocation client.
Bennett International Education Consultancy works directly with hundreds of families each year across the globe. We support families by helping them make informed decisions about the best-fit schools for their children; with our guidance, they secure placement in preschools, private day schools, public/state schools, boarding schools, colleges & universities, including schools with particular programs, such as special needs support.