Innovation is coming to Camden Hills!

By Maria Libby | Feb 07, 2019

We have been working almost a year to develop an exciting new innovation center within the high school. It will be called “The Hatchery.” The Hatchery is really a concept. We will dedicate two spaces at the high school to The Hatchery, but it is so much more than the spaces. Innovation will permeate how we think about learning, working, and growing. For students. For teachers. For leaders. For community. This is a call to the whole school to model an innovative mindset.

The Hatchery will represent an incredible opportunity for students to become innovators. The Hatchery embodies a different structure for learning by unleashing students to think for themselves, to immerse themselves in an area of interest, to collaborate with a vast array of others and to identify problems and develop solutions. The Hatchery will spark curiosity, foster exploration and enable students to wonder. It will help us redefine what a high school education can be. Students will be able to take classes in innovation and design thinking, attend mini-courses in the makerspace during study hall and learn from adults who are immersed in the innovation economy. Whether students are budding entrepreneurs, original thinkers, interested in the intersection of innovation and civic issues, artists finding new ways to tell a story, or tinkerers, they will find a home in the Hatchery. This is a place to explore questions, define problems, and devise solutions that can make the world a better place.

The Hatchery will break down the walls between the community and the school by hosting events (e.g. Café Nights, lecture series) that bring people together, making spaces and resources available to the community and by collaborating with other innovators and entrepreneurs in our community. The Hatchery will be the inspiration for the school community to reflect on every aspect of what we are doing. Is our leadership innovative? Are our instructional practices innovative? Do we possess a mindset that seeks new solutions to make education better for students in all aspects of our operation?

We readily acknowledge that we don’t know what The Hatchery will eventually become, as it is an inherently dynamic process over time. However, we have taken this idea so far as to consider how schools could leverage their commercial kitchens to spur the food innovation industry to help revitalize Maine’s economy. We are thinking big! But we are starting small, trying to phase this in over the next few years. Next year we hope to have reconfigured the former Industrial Arts room into a makerspace and we plan to offer one or two courses under the Hatchery umbrella. Tom Gray and Suzanne Southworth, both veteran teachers at CHRHS, are the two teachers who will be spearheading this effort. We are also considering partnering with a school in Cambridge, Mass., to help jumpstart our work and set us up for the most success. We will be working on grant applications this winter to help fund a renovation of the lecture hall, the speaker series, and Café Nights that would come the following year.

In developing this idea, administration connected with an array of incredibly talented and helpful people, including Leetha Filderman at PopTech, Jay Friedlander at College of the Atlantic, Nate Davis at the Steelhouse, Fiona Wilson at the UNH Innovation Center, Angela McCue and Renee Kelly at the UMaine Foster Innovation Center and Shawn Taylor at the UMaine FabLab.

In addition, we did an “innovation tour” of Boston, visiting the NuVu School, in Cambridge, Mass., Build Boston, the Cambridge Innovation Center, the Roxbury Innovation Center, and District Hall. We also attended a Venture Café night at CIC. It was inspiring to say the least to see and learn what is happening in one of our nation’s hubs for innovation. The NuVu school is an independent school that bases its entire curriculum on innovation and design “studios,” so it was incredibly helpful to see their space, equipment, and student work. We saw two co-working buildings that not only gave us ideas about how to set up some of our spaces, but also let us see how many young people are actually working today. We found ourselves surrounded by individuals or small groups, mostly under 30 years old, working on new ideas, writing on walls, stopping by the kitchen for free coffee and snacks, and networking non-stop by virtue of culture and proximity. It was fascinating.

This winter and spring we will focus on making sure students and staff contribute to the developing vision and understand the opportunities that will be available through The Hatchery. We will keep the community informed and we are intentional in crafting a vision that brings the community in. We look forward to partnering in new ways with those in our wonderful community who are also looking to enhance innovation in the Midcoast. For more information, please contact Shawn Carlson, High School Principal, or Maria Libby, Superintendent.





Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Feb 08, 2019 15:51

Way to go thoughts, new innovation and creative actions.

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