How do schools make sure today’s students are inspired and motivated to learn?

How do schools prepare every student for college and for rewarding, modern careers?

How do coastal communities adapt to a changing fishing industry?

How can our school and our community work together? 

… by providing students deep learning in marine-related topics that is rigorous AND relevant!

The Marine Studies Pathway at Deer Isle-Stonington High School is new kind of learning experience designed to engage and inspire today’s students, while equipping them with the practical skills they will need to succeed in every area of adult life. Students in the Marine Studies Pathway program will learn in the community, on the shore, and on the water, working alongside teachers, scientists, fishermen, and local marine professionals. They will acquire the knowledge, skills, and work ethic they will need to succeed in college and in challenging modern careers.

By investigating the complex issues facing our coastal communities and ecosystems, students will gain a relevant, real-world understanding of our local natural habitats, economics, government, and history, while applying math skills to community problems, learning sophisticated new technologies, and writing extensively about what they are learning. Instead of learning only in the classroom, Marine Studies Pathway blends rigorous academic study with the kinds of real-life experiences that make learning stick.  Technology rich learning environments will allow teachers to personalize learning for students and honor “anytime, anywhere” learning.

Graduates of the Marine Studies Pathway will earn the same diploma as other Deer Isle-Stonington High School students. And they will achieve the same state and national learning standards as other students—which means they will leave our high school prepared to succeed in college and whatever careers they may choose.  

Central to the entire initiative will be the following Programmatic Goals for students in the Marine Studies Pathway:

The Marine Studies Pathway Will:

  • Use marine related issues to engage students in academic learning and “learning how to learn.”
  • Expose students to a wide-range of both known and emerging marine related careers, as well as other careers that can be made possible by a marine-related education.
  • Provide students a diploma which meaningfully prepares them for any post-secondary option.
  • Develop future citizens and leaders who can speak for themselves, especially graduates who will stay in or return to this community.
  • Help sustain the local fishing economy and way of life in response to economic, climatic, regulatory, and technological changes.

In order to achieve these goals, teaching and learning at Deer Isle-Stonington High School will need to be "re-visioned" and include the following critical components:

Critical Components for Teaching and Learning in the Pathway:

  • Prepares all students for college and career; it is not an either/or.

  • Students earn a proficiency-based (standards-based) diploma aligned to both state and national standards.

  • Integrated, interdisciplinary, marine-themed curricula delivered via community- and project-based learning activities and lessons.

  • Personalized learning opportunities engage students in authentic and meaningful work.

  • Students work side-by-side with teachers and community experts.

  • Utilizes a wide range of community experts to partner with teachers to deliver high quality, authentic learning experiences.

The Marine Studies Pathway is an incredibly important initiative for DISHS.  The school has made quite a few gains in student achievement over the past several years, the result of a tremendous amount of effort from the entire staff to engage and support students.  However, there is still a significant percentage of students who are not engaged in their own learning.  Plateauing NWEA results are an indication of this- the school is approaching the limits of traditional academic programming being able to reach 100% of its students and prepare each of them for a variety of post-secondary options.  If DISHS is to continue to make gains, it is going to need to create more active engagement in the educational process from its students by personalizing the learning to meet their aspirations and experiences- to provide a better and more immediate answer to the eternal question “why do we have to learn all this stuff?”

It is also important to note that the Marine Studies Pathway is part of a broader strategic framework at the high school (outlined in this Pathways Initiative implementation timeline), which is in turn aligned with community feedback from the strategic planning process, the draft strategic planning goals, the goals of the New England Secondary Schools Consortium/League of Innovative Schools, and the Maine Department of Education's “Education Evolving” strategic plan.  Specifically, during the community forums that were part of the strategic planning process last spring, the following themes emerged from parent and community comments:

  • Graduates are prepared for college or a job; have the skills necessary to succeed.

  • Students have a broad view of the larger world to understand career and life options.

  • Students have the confidence to learn, love learning, and think critically.

  • More flexible grouping of students (not just by age).

Additionally, the following draft goals from the still-in-progress Strategic Plan are directly supported by the Marine Studies Pathway and similar initiatives:

  • DIS students graduate from our schools prepared for and aspiring to succeed in college, careers and citizenship. Our students acquire skills, experiences and attitudes that support their trajectories into an unpredictable future.

  • DIS students attain reading, writing, and math skills at or above their grade level, and make at least a year’s growth in a year’s time.

  • DIS students are critical thinkers, effective communicators and creative problem-solvers.

  • Personalized learning plans allow students voice and choice in their learning; students use multiple and flexible learning pathways which all lead to a college- and career-ready diploma.

  • Technology is integrated into teaching and learning so that DIS students…

    • experience equitable access to educational resources,

    • acquire and apply 21st century skills,

    • can learn “anytime, anywhere,”

    • and teachers are provided professional resources / collegial networks.

  • DIS schools welcome, benefit from and rely on engaged parents, local businesses, and all community members.
Subpages (1): History of MSP