Our philosophy

We believe humans live and learn in community, through being in relationship with the many facets of the world.  In our educational context, this means that instead of learning about things, we actively learn from and with the very people, places, stories, and ideas that make up our lives.  We learn about the natural world by hiking through Acadia National Park with an ornithologist. We learn about the history of our island by meeting a firefighter who fought the 1947 Great Fire of MDI. We learn about land conservation by stewarding The Cooksey Drive Preserve for Maine Coast Heritage Trust.  Learning becomes less about memorizing facts and figures and more about learning how to interact and deeply engage with the world. 

At The Community School, we teach children how to lead creative, joyous, and meaningful lives with a deep connection to and stewardship for our communities and our world.  We believe this happens when children authentically learn about and explore: who they are, the natural and built world around them, and our local and global human communities.  At The Community School, we cultivate a sense of self, place, and community.

Sense of Self
We value self knowledge as much as worldly knowledge.  An educational experience like ours is a journey towards an ever deepening sense of self and one’s relation to the  world.  We believe that the best way to explore one’s sense of self is to actively engage the world through the arts, poetry, and song, and exploration of the natural world. Techniques such as meditation and mindfulness practiced are offered as tools for personal exploration.  We welcome each child’s voice and honor their contribution as individuals in our community in our open and trusting learning environment.  We empower children to explore their individual interests while challenging and supporting them with new experiences.  We embrace how each child’s unique skills and talents contribute to the richness of our whole community.

Sense of Place
We honor that we are of this place and that our place affects who we are, just as we affect our place. By place we mean both the ecosystems of our island and world and also the villages, cities, and systems that make up our human environment.  Daily, we learn about the connection between these realms through actively exploring the historical, ecological, and cultural facets of Mount Desert Island and beyond.  Together, these inspire a land ethic of stewardship that strives to balance the conservation of the natural environment with our human needs.  We have a unique opportunity to explore these complex dynamics as they play out in Acadia National Park and the varying communities that make up our island.  Most importantly, we want children to fall in love with our home and our place and to engage the world with everlasting awe and wonder.

Sense of Community
We believe that individuals thrive in community.   We nurture this by placing a great value on human connection and relationship.  From a young age, our children are encouraged to explore the role they play in creating and influencing our school community.  Through community meetings, decision making, and class discussion, the children learn to value the thoughts of others as they collaboratively share their ideas and address common concerns.  We actively engage in the island community through our weekly outings where we meet and learn from community members and make connections about the dynamics at work on our unique island home. The Community School is engaged with a number of community organizations and institutions who share our focus on the relationships between humans and our natural environment, and whose educational and sustainability goals we share and support as part of our mission; this includes our contribution to the educational mission of The College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor through student teaching placements and internships.Our seasonal festivals, open to the public, also cultivate a broader sense of community.  Through moments of intentional reflection, the children recognize how the community, both within the schoolhouse and beyond, is a crucial part of their education and their lives.