LIMESTONE, Maine — The Maine School of Science and Mathematics and the Limestone Community School of RSU 39 have been sharing the same building for nearly 20 years, and the benefits of doing so seem to be growing.
Executive Director of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics Luke Shorty highlighted recent collaboration between the two educational entities during the Sept. 17 meeting of RSU 39, including student-to-student tutoring and strong athletic cooperation.
“Collaboration between administrators on both ends of the hallway is going exceptionally well,” he said.
Last year, for instance, the path was blazed for LCS students ready to take on the advanced coursework offered at the math and science school.
“Last year we ran a pilot program with some LCS students who had exhausted the math curriculum at their school to take a course at MSSM,” Shorty outlined. “That went extremely well to the point where we’re doing it a second year.”
There are currently two LCS ninth-graders enrolled in one of MSSM’s math courses, and Shorty is hoping those students will continue with the advanced math curriculum until their graduation.
The pilot program wasn’t the first time that MSSM educators have taught RSU students, however. A few years ago, when one of the RSU’s high school math teachers fell ill, students were able to continue their coursework uninterrupted through tapping the educational talents of an MSSM teacher.
Currently, some MSSM students provide peer tutoring available to LCS students in the school’s library.
Working together for athletics has also produced excellent results; there are currently 12 MSSM students on the boys soccer team, eight on the girls soccer team and 10 on the 11-person cross country team.
“As our student population grows, (Dean of Enrollment Management Alan Whittemore) has mentioned that there are a lot of students out there who are good at math and science, and also interested in athletics,” Shorty described. “Whatever we can do as a school to continue working with RSU 39 to support the athletic interests of those students, the more they’ll look at considering MSSM as an option.”
The math and science school also contracts with RSU 39 as well as SAD 1 for bus services. For local and weekend trips, like last week’s trek for 25 students down to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, MSSM contracts transportation services through RSU 39; for long trips, like their extended weekends held approximately once a month, MSSM contracts with SAD 1 out of Presque Isle.
During the extended weekends, the residential high school provides bus services from Limestone all the way down to Portland to send every student home for approximately four days. With currently nine students attending MSSM from countries like China, Ukraine and South Korea, however, traveling home for the weekend isn’t an option.
“It’s a long bus ride from Limestone to China,” Shorty joked, but the community and school parents have worked closely to ensure the school’s international students are afforded opportunities to get off campus during the extended weekends.
“We’ve been looking to utilize members of the communities here in Aroostook County to play the role of host families for these students,” Shorty said. “We have some great students from all over the world, and it would be great for them to experience what it’s like to be in an American family and see that American culture on those extended weekends,” he added.
The school has currently received enough host families to accommodate the current number of international students, but Shorty mentioned that they’re always open to more families looking to host international students.