A glimpse at a few current projects...

Natural Resource Pathway - East Grand School


At East Grand, we have been working with pk-12 teachers to develop a vision for project/place-based learning with a focus on the natural resource assets of the area.  East Grand has an established school garden program as well as an outdoor classroom and an amazing collection of gear to support outdoor recreation and learning opportunities.  Rural Aspirations has worked with teachers and administrators to develop graduation standards and pk-6 science and social studies curriculum maps to serve as a platform for curriculum development.  At this point, teachers are imaging ways to engage the community in building diversified natural resource experiences for students.

Eastern Maine Skippers Program


The Eastern Maine Skippers Program (EMSP) is a collaborative regional high school program that provides aspiring commercial fishermen and others interested in marine careers with the core knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the 21st century. Looking toward co-managed fisheries, EMSP students work closely with community partners including local fishermen, scientists, fisheries organizations, and regulators, gaining real-world experience and the opportunity to connect with mentors in commercial fishing and a range of marine careers. Students remain in their own schools while forming an annual regional cohort which draws on a shared curriculum, online interaction and meeting a minimum of four times each academic year to develop relationships among the region’s future fishery leaders.


The Rural Aspirations Project supports this work by guiding the program and teachers in the development of EMSP Curriculum; supporting and training teachers in proficiency and project-based teaching practices, including annual training workshops and 1:1 support for teachers; serving on the EMSP Steering Committee as a lead partner and supporting the work of other Community Partners



Students share ideas to help boost fishing industry's future - Ellsworth American

Future Fishermen a Focus of Fishermen's Forum - WABI TV5


Personalization & Multiple Pathways - Mt. Abram High School, Carrabec High School, Telstar High School


Supported by a GEAR-UP grant, Rural Aspirations has been working with these schools to develop systems, structures, and curriculum to support personalization.  Each school is considering what pathways exist for students, identifying the need for additional pathways, and developing structures to support those pathways.  Several of these schools are utilizing our risk assessment systems to better understand the unique needs of their students.


In 2017, the Bangor Daily News highlighted a Defining Communities unit at Telstar High School.  Here is a link to the article and the Project Narrative.   

Natural Resource Career and Technical Education Satellite Program - Forest Hills School, Jackman


Rural Aspirations worked with Forest Hills and Tri-County Technical Center school administrators, a local advisory council and Maine DOE to develop a Natural Resource Satellite program, which will be hosted by Forest Hills, serving all students in the Tri-County area.  This program provides students with a comprehensive overview of natural resources.  Students will learn about natural resource-related careers as well as gain a deep understanding of how our natural systems work together.  This program is set to launch in SY 19-20.     


Telstar Freshman Academy

For the past 4 years, Telstar High School and the Bryant Pond 4H Learning Center have been partnering to create a project-based, community-based learning opportunity for incoming Telstar freshman.  Rural Aspirations has worked annually with staff/faculty to design and refine a curricular framework that provides students with opportunities to explore connections within their communities while simultaneously meeting academic standards.  The essential question that guides their curricular work is:  What is my impact?  From this question, students explore environmental, social, civic, economic systems to better understand the interconnections between community and core content areas. 

Deer Isle Stonington High School - Marine & Visual/Performing Arts Pathways

Deer Isle Stonington High School has committed to creating engaging community-relevant, career-themed, project-based Pathways for all students.  The Marine Studies Pathway launched in 2014, the Visual and Performing Arts Pathway in the spring of 2015.  The Rural Aspirations Project has teamed up with Deer Isle Stonington staff to provide facilitation, curriculum development support, training, and expertise around pathways and student-driven learning initiatives.  Examples of Rural Aspirations Programming at DISHS include:


Summer Institute - Pathways Curriculum Design and Proficiency/ Project Based Pedagogy.


Pathways 101 - An introductory curriculum for students participating in one of the DISHS Pathways programs.  Students design Personal Learning Plans, develop Independent Projects guided by Essential Questions, and students work through a group project, focusing on mastering several of the Guiding Principles. 

Liberal Arts Pathway - Sumner Memorial High School


This program, at Sumner Memorial High School, has offered a unique opportunity for students to diversify their educational experiences.  Upon acceptance, students design Personal Learning Plans to individualize their educational journeys.  Students design independent coursework, utilizing a model similar to Understanding By Design, combined with a mixture of traditional courses, online courses, early college courses, project-based learning experiences, and structured pathways courses.  This program requires self-direction and motivation.  The reputation of this program has attracted and encouraged families, with reservations about the current educational structure, to engage in and support SMHS. Val Peacock, our Program Manager, was a part of this program from the beginning.  Korah and Val worked together to continue to develop the individualized Pathways model of learning throughout the 2012 and 2013 school years.  



The Zenith Program - Camden Hills Regional High School

Zenith is an off-campus alternative education program serving students from Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, Hope, and Appleton.  Students work through 6-8 week intensive academic units while also exploring a diversified educational program outside the walls of Zenith.  The program has been in operation for over 10 years and is highly regarded in the community and at the State level.  Korah Soll, our founding director was instrumental in designing this program.  The model is also fully operational at Mt. View High School and Sumner Memorial High School. Helen Scipione is the current Zenith Director.    



Zenith provides alternative learners with a creatively individualized educational environment.  We aim to develop within our students a strong sense of respect for self, others, and community. These skills are fostered through experiential, community-based learning, student independence, and responsibility, and the ongoing development of effective problem solving and group processing strategies.


© 2013 By Rural Aspirations Project.