The Riley School

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That little school down the road? Best kept secret no more…. 

At first look the Riley School in Rockport is yet just another of the many excellent private schools for which the north east is so well known.  Nestled snugly on a tiny peninsula in a small town on the coast of Maine, Riley boasts a lovely campus, a child centered curriculum and a staff of creative teachers who think, live, and breathe so far out of the box that the walls of boring never come near them or their students.

All this sounds like a shining example of normal, or the normal we wish every school could be.  But look closer.  There is a depth to the offerings of Riley School; a depth that is defined by the coast of Maine and the incredible resources of the wider community that surrounds us all here in mid-coast Maine.

Should our children’s education look like STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)?  Well, beyond its own outstanding math and science teachers,  Riley benefits from a close partnership with the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership that provides the in-class and outdoor science program at Riley throughout the school year. Riley also benefits from the support of  Stewardship Education Alliance, a  S.E.A. grant to fund a green crab project investigating predation pressures on soft-shelled clams. That project takes our classes to Glen Cove and to Hurricane Island. Our woodshop and tinkering studio additionally provide space for children to work on a boatbuilding project with a recent graduate ( and now faculty member ) from The Apprenticeshop. Our science is tied very closely to the beautiful fragile coast that we are privileged to call home. The threat to our coast is real and we understand that in a visceral, hands-on way.

But not all our children will grow up to be scientists.  What would our world be without the humanities, artists, musicians, writers, poets?  Riley partners with  Pat McLean’s  Finding Our Voices, in a youth Love/No Love  Art and Poetry project intended to draw out the very young voices of our students into  art, narratives, poems, and song. 

 A more tangible form of expression takes us to Camden for the library  sponsored Winterfest where we enjoy the rare opportunity of ice carving.  Simple appreciation of arts will lead us to simply looking and learning at Rockland’s Center for Maine Contemporary Art.  We enjoy in-person collaborations with the new Learning and Engagement initiative, Arts@theIntersection - Farnsworth Art Museum where our school has been partnered with mid-coast porcelain sgraffito artist Tim Christianson who  guides Riley children in creating new work scheduled for display in the museum’s galleries this spring.

In the mid-coast we live where the mountains meet the sea, and many children are just born with energy and a spirit of adventure.  We have room to run and explore on our 20 acres - with a stream, a pond and direct access to the cove. But collaborations abound and children can also row with  Station Maine, or ski at the Snow Bowl or skate at Midcoast Rec Center. 

On campus, Sidecountry Sports and Trails partnered with Riley and Union Farm Equipment to raise funds and construct a beginner bike trail on the campus - inviting the children to join their team of experienced trail staff in designing and laying out the  multi-purpose path that gets regular use during Friday activities and recess. 

For a more international view we partner with  Penobscot Bay Language School to grow our language skills and widen our horizons to include a much, much bigger world. Spanish has been a part of the Riley curriculum for many years.

So, yes, Riley School is and will remain a small private school on a small peninsula on the coast of Maine.  But by looking up even for a moment beyond its beautiful campus, we see a glorious world of educational possibilities that this article has only begun to enumerate.  This coast of Maine gives us both a small town environment and an endless resource for wider learning.  Local artists, athletes, and scientists offer a depth of accessible learning opportunities rarely seen in schools located elsewhere.  Riley takes advantage of these opportunities.  And then, as we stare into the campfires that occasionally dot our campus, we each quietly, in our own way, give thanks that we live on the coast of Maine.

Event Date: 

Mon, 02/27/2023 (All day)