Each year the raucous early morning birdsong of April and May gradually gives way to the evening chorus of myriad insects in August. As a child I would lay awake at night this time of year, waiting in anticipation for the start of school. Last night, after I awoke several times to look at the clock only to see that I had several more hours to rest, I realized that not much has changed.
With first light, I was up. Campus has a wonderful, dew-draped calm in the wee hours, and I enjoy the quiet time. Now the sun has risen above the treetops and bright yellow rays slant across the farmhouse porch, highlighting the classic swing where students will soon sit with new friends.
My school supplies are all in hand and I have my books too, including a new one titled Fascinating Fungi of the North Woods, so I am ready for the semester. From across the county, students and their families have been traveling north to midcoast Maine and after lunch they will converge on our small peninsula.
For the past two weeks we have been getting ready for this day. The faculty gathered early this year for a three-day saltwater canoe trip. We departed from the Chewonki waterfront and stayed on Castle Island, one of our own, just as students might do on a wilderness trip. The trip was full of fine paddling, engaging conversation, top-notch food, and unrestrained laughter.
Since then we have continued our semester preparation on campus. With each meeting or task we deliberately set a tone for the semester ahead. We discuss pedagogical issues with a hunger to refine our own teaching in the classroom. We clean the cabins and bathrooms with care, just as we will ask students to do. We consider program changes with spirited discussion that considers a range of voices and perspectives. And through it all the WE is strong.
Maine Coast Semester is certainly about the natural setting, the classes, work on the farm, and outdoor activities. However, it is the students on the porch swing and the teachers cleaning the bathrooms that define the soul of our school. We are a small community that nurtures individual growth by living, working, and learning together. That is why I have a hard time sleeping on the night before school. Once the students arrive, we become WE. That is what I am truly excited for.
There are a few final details to tidy up this morning and I am eager to continue my study of fungi in anticipation of a new field trip to be led by our science teacher, Rhan. I hope that you will check back here throughout the semester as faculty and students provide updates of our 39th semester in our 20th year.
Head of School
Ben watching sunset from Castle Island
Ezra, Amos, and Bill Hinkley
Paddlers in Montsweag Bay