JAY — RSU 73 Superintendent Robert Wall was thrilled Wednesday morning with the announcement that the soon-to-be-combined Spruce Mountain High School has been awarded a 2013 School Turnaround AmeriCorps Grant that will enable as many as 40 community people to come into the school to provide assistance with a multitude of issues facing the new culture.

SMHS will share $2.2 million with three other districts over a three-year period.

“Our intention is to build a success-based culture at SMHS,” he said. “We’re combining the two high schools this year. The AmeriCorps grant is about human investment in our young people and in our community. AmeriCorps will assist us in making our goal of excellence. We’re thankful to be a part of the grant.”

Students from the former SMHS South Campus in Livermore Falls are joining their counterparts at North Campus in Jay beginning Aug. 28.

Ethan Strimling, chief executive officer of Learning Works, a Portland non-profit organization that works to assist youth at risk, immigrants and low-income families, was able to put together the grant in fewer than three weeks and will administer the grant.

He said the additional part-time people in the school allows community members to become partners in their school.


“Some will be young people who will help their colleagues,” he said. “This is important to building a new culture. The grant recognizes that it’s not okay if anyone gets left out. The goal is for 100 percent of the kids to graduate.”

Michael Ashmore, grants officer of the Maine Commission for Community Service, also attended the press conference. His organization is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

With the award to SMHS, the program developed there will become a part of the AmeriCorps National Service Network.

“Bringing AmeriCorps to this task will affect the (high school) culture,” he said.

The SMHS AmeriCorps program will share a full-time site coordinator with Carrabec High School, as well as employ two half-time people and about 30 part-time people.

Strimling said RSU 73 already has an improvement plan in place. The addition of AmeriCorps volunteers will bolster that plan.


Volunteers receive monetary educational awards of varying amounts, contingent upon the number of hours they work.

Janice Daku, of Western Maine Community Action, said one of the most important components of the Jay program was the engagement of parents and community members in the process.

Wall said examples of tasks to be undertaken by AmeriCorps volunteers include working with the adult education and credit recovery programs and tutoring.

SMHS Principal T.J. Plourde said the site coordinator will be the liaison with the community. Plourde will also head up the coordination of volunteers in his school.

Community members interested in taking part in the program may contact Plourde at 897-4336 or Learning Works at 775-0105.

Other schools in Maine sharing in the 2013 School Turnaround AmeriCorps Grant are Carrabec High School, two elementary schools in Portland and Ellsworth High School.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: