Launching the Marine Studies Pathway

Post date: Aug 17, 2012 12:10:34 PM

Link to the Marine Studies Pathway Website:

In December, Deer Isle-Stonington High School was approached by a parent and community who was a member of both the district’s Strategic Planning Team and the board of Penobscot East Resource Center, who was wondering if the recently passed Innovative Schools legislation might provide an impetus to the development of marine-related curricula at DISHS.  Because the high school was simultaneously re-examining its local Marine Trades program in light of recent staffing adjustments and the district was engaged in a strategic planning process, it was quickly evident that this would be a great area to investigate further.  Since January, several high school staff members have been meeting with representatives from PERC, Maine Maritime Academy, and an increasingly broad range of individuals and groups interested in developing what we are now calling a “Marine Studies Pathway” at Deer Isle-Stonington High School.

Throughout the spring of 2012, the core planning team met regularly to try to pull together a vision of what such a program might look like.  The result was this Vision/Planning Document. The Vision and Planning Document describes what the Marine Studies Pathway might look like when it is fully implemented. Central to the entire initiative will be the following Programmatic Goals for students in the Marine Studies Pathway:

The Marine Studies Pathway will:

In order to achieve these goals, teaching and learning at Deer Isle-Stonington High School will need to be "re-visioned" and include the following critical components:

The Marine Studies Pathway is an incredibly important initiative for DISHS.  The school has made quite a few gains in student achievement over the past several years, the result of a tremendous amount of effort from the entire staff to engage and support students.  However, there is still a significant percentage of students who are not engaged in their own learning.  Plateauing NWEA results are an indication of this- the school is approaching the limits of traditional academic programming being able to reach 100% of its students and prepare each of them for a variety of post-secondary options.  If DISHS is to continue to make gains, it is going to need to create more active engagement in the educational process from its students by personalizing the learning to meet their aspirations and experiences- to provide a better and more immediate answer to the eternal question “why do we have to learn all this stuff?”

It is also important to note that the Marine Studies Pathway is part of a broader strategic framework at the high school (outlined in this “Big Picture” document), which is in turn aligned with community feedback from the strategic planning process, the draft strategic planning goals, the goals of the New England Secondary Schools Consortium/League of Innovative Schools, and the Maine Department of Education's “Education Evolving” strategic plan.  Specifically, during the community forums that were part of the strategic planning process last spring, the following themes emerged from parent and community comments:

Additionally, the following draft goals from the still-in-progress Strategic Plan are directly supported by the Marine Studies Pathway and similar initiatives: