Amanda Clark, left, hands out information to the RSU 9 board of directors on Tuesday, Oct. 25, while CCHCS principal Carol Keisman gets her notes ready. Cape Cod Hill Community School’s first year as a community school was “very impressive” according to Maine Department of Education. Brian Ponce/Franklin County

FARMINGTON — Cape Cod Hill Community School Principal Carol Kiesman, along with social worker Amanda Clark, gave a presentation to the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors on Tuesday, Oct. 25, on the progress the school has made since it adapted to becoming a community school last year.

A community school, as defined by Kiesman and Clark in their presentation, is a public elementary or secondary school that “participates in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships at school,” as well as “provides access to services under paragraph A to students, families and the community, such as access during the school year to services before school hours, after school hours and during the weekend, as well as access to such services during the summer.”

“What that means to us is that we become a hub of the community,” Clark stated to the board. “We offer things that families are looking for elsewhere that are hard to find.”

RSU 9 board of directors voted in April of last year to designate Cape Cod Hill School a “community school” and the school entered the 2022-2023 school year with that designation. Former principal Lisa Sinclair and former RSU 9 director of curriculum Laura Columbia were the ones to present the idea to the board.

Maine Department of Education was authorized to designate and provide funding for five community schools, established in accordance with 20-A MRSA Chapter 333. CCHCS was one of the five schools to receive funding.

At the presentation in April, it was stated the “criteria for eligibility is 40% economically disadvantaged youth.” CCHCS students come in at 44.8% and the school was awarded with $50,000 in grant funding from DOE.


Now, CCHCS enters its second year as a community school and gave an update on the progress of services. Keisman, who became principal for CCHCS in May of this year after Sinclair left the position, says a representative of the DOE was “very impressed” with what CCHCS was able to accomplish in their its year and what goals it has going into the second year.

“[CCHCS] has been given the opportunity to potentially become a demonstration site for Maine community schools,” she shared with the board. “[The representative] does the site visits for all of the different schools that received this grant, and she said that we really stand out throughout the entire state.”

Director Janice David of Farmington asked what the catalyst was that initiated the process of becoming a community school.

“It really started the conversation of where we are geographically,” Clark said. “A lot of the times the resources that we were finding that our families needed or were looking for were either too far into Skowhegan or too far in Farmington.

“They were there, but transportation was an issue,” Clark added.

In the past year, CCHCS has been able to integrate the following programs into its network of services.


• Universal free before and after care.

• Academic enrichment activities/clubs after school.

• Dental care clinics available to all students.

• SNAP Ed nutrition classes for every student.

• Mental health clinician coming one day a week for identified students.

• SEL presentations/partnerships with outside agencies.


• Enrichment activities outside of school [field trips, etc.].

• Psychology intern partnership with University of Maine at Farmington for Fall 2023.

• Universal anxiety screening for grade 5 [Spring of 2023].

• Universal screening school wide 2023-2024.

• Fully stocked food and clothing pantry for families.

• No cost summer 2023 enrichment camp.


Moving forward into the 2023-2024 school year and beyond, CCHCS hopes to continues to enrich the program by adding community school focus groups for teachers, staff, parents, community members, and community stakeholders, as well as expanding summer programming, hosting a community garden that started in fall 2023, offering CPR/AED education and certification to students and their families, enhanced outdoor learning spaces, increased mental health support, opening the computer lab for community use, becoming a certified warming center and restructuring the CCHCS sports fields for community sports/games.

Kiesman and Clark shared the DOE would be returning to film an interview on their accomplishments and use it to bring more awareness to the community school model for other rural school districts in Maine.

CCHCS will also be hosting several staff from a midcoast community school in November to demonstrate how literacy lessons are presented. When Keisman asked how CCHCS was chosen among all the other schools in Maine, the answer shocked her.

“When I dug a little further and asked ‘how did you come up with our school out of all of schools in Maine to visit?’, she said that DOE had actually referred her to us because of our community school,” Keisman said.

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