Our mission statement: River School is an alternative high school based on student-directed learning. We combine academic study with experiential learning through travel and involvement in the community. Our focus is to provide students with the sense of responsibility, respect, and independence that will prepare them for life.
River School is small and truly student centered. Learning is individualized for all, not as an exception but as the rule. Classes are small, and independent study is encouraged and guided.
River School classes concentrate on thinking, discussion, and understanding, not grades and rote memorization. There is time and encouragement to delve into things deeply, and to steer your own learning. Classes are informal and relaxed, but demanding. Teachers are guides and fellow learners, not lecturers.
Travel is an essential part of learning, and of the River School education. River School teachers have extensive experience guiding safe and affordable travel in Maine, throughout North and Central America including Mexico, Newfoundland and Labrador, and in Europe and Africa. The school year starts and ends with several weeks of travel. There is no way to avoid learning when you travel!
River School is democratic. Decisions, from admissions to discipline, from scheduling to every aspect of the day to day running of the school, are done in a democratic manner. Students are trusted and valued as thinking human beings, and have real power in the school. There's nothing radical about this, because after all the only reason the school exists is to serve the students.
Sustainability is a guiding principle. Students are entering an adulthood where energy and technology are adjusting to a new order. Today's young adults must guide and encourage change, rather than tie their fortunes to an obsolete way of thinking.
River School students enjoy freedom and are expected to show responsibility. The school has an open campus and students can come and go as their activities and learning dictate. With this freedom, they have the responsibility to be in classes on time, and to present a good impression of the school to the larger community.
Community Involvement is another essential part of River School education. Students are encouraged and expected to spend time each day in apprenticeship, employment, independent learning, internship, or volunteer work in Belfast. A wide range of opportunities are being set up, or students may arrange their own.
River School is truly committed to, and is small enough to ensure, civil respect and tolerance by each member of the community for all others. There is no room for anything less, no space for bullying, cliques, fear or harassment on any basis.
Faculty at River School are committed to the concepts of student empowerment, freedom and responsibility, and take satisfaction in the growth of the young adults who come into their guidance and watchfulness. We enjoy being part of River School.
Parents are encouraged to be part of the school and their student's education, and are recognized as the primary guides to their progeny's moral, ethical and religious development. They, the student, and the school form a solid triangle from which students can be launched into adult life.
What, then, does River School have in common with other schools?
Commitment to academic excellence. We believe, provide the tools for, and expect each student to excel in the learning expected of all Maine high school graduates, and needed for college entry. The methods are different, individualized and student centered, but the expectation is the same.