The New School Kennebunk
The New School was founded on the belief that small, innovative, challenging, community-based schools are a necessity for southern Maine and for young people all over the nation. We believe that: Many young people do not thrive in large public schools, particularly if they are unusually creative, have non-traditional learning styles, and need to belong to a small supportive community of learners. We pay attention to the whole person: body, mind and spirit. In a small, supportive environment, personal characteristics that might be labeled a disability in a larger school become an appreciated diversity.
Schools have been separated from communities for far too long. Young people need significant relationships with adults beyond their families and classrooms, and need to learn in the context of the place where they live. All our courses are open to anyone in the community. School is open from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. From 3:00-9:00pm courses are a mix of adults and young people. We also serve home schoolers. Our students are constantly learning in the community, doing public service, working as apprentices, or engaged in field work;
Our country is in great need of active, knowledgeable citizens. Young people need to learn to be members of the "commons" by being active citizens who are aware of social, political and environmental issues and know how to be pro-active in the public domain. The school is governed by a Planning Team made up of students, parents, educators and community people. Students govern day-to-day operations through a consensus decision making process. They have a lot of responsibility. Students do community service, are familiar with town offices, work on referendums of their choice, join local organizations such as Youth Advocates and will eventually serve on town boards; The development of mind, body and spirit are essential if young people are to grow to be responsible, compassionate, imaginative, and intelligent adults who can contribute in healthy ways to their communities and world while experiencing a satisfying personal life. Students develop their own holistic learning plans, supported by Advisories, and are constantly encouraged to pay attention to all aspects of their lives. They explore career options through apprenticeships and are encouraged to pursue their passions;
Living at this time requires highly aware and effective environmental stewards. Our planet is remarkably small and understanding finite resources, personal life-style choices, and the impact of humans on fragile ecosystems is essential. We are co-sponsors of our local Earth Day, are field workers for our local Conservation Commission and Wells Reserve, and everyone learns Environmental Science and Ecology. We recycle everything, compost our food wastes, are learning to reuse and reduce, ride bikes instead of cars, use 100% recycled paper, and are aware of our buying habits;
There are many ways to learn. High expectations for rigorous academic standards can be met in innovative ways. Creative, integrated courses, independent studies with mentors, apprenticeships, and learning in established community organizations all yield rich learning when matched to student passions and personal learning plans. The ways students learn are as varied as the young people who come here. We do not give grades because we believe in learning for its own sake. Credit is given for goals met and evidence of learning. Students present their work to the public twice a semester and graduate with a portfolio and demonstration of knowledge to a committee.