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Welcome to the 2019-20 School Year!

posted Aug 19, 2019, 9:32 AM by Melissa Burns

Welcome to the 2019-20 School Year

      There is nothing finer than crossing the bay on a gorgeous summer morning and breathing in the fresh coastal air while schooners slide by under blue skies. The restorative properties of the Maine coast are truly remarkable. 

     ICS has been a busy place these past couple of months. We said goodbye to a handful of staff and students and have spent considerable time and energy rebuilding and restoring some key positions. Our efforts have reaped wonderful results. In fact, several of the new staff have moved to Islesboro with their school-age children. We all extend a warm welcome to the new community members. We also have two adorable staff babies attending the Islesboro Preschool. 

        ICS continues to be an ever-evolving school. Happily, we have recently been recognized as the 9th best school district--out of 116--in the state of Maine by Niche! Niche’s 2020 Best School Districts ranking is based on rigorous analysis of key statistics and millions of reviews from students and parents using data from the U.S. Department of Education. In an effort to rekindle the school’s community bonds, ICS will also be hosting a forum featuring a plenary session followed by a World Cafe style meeting. More information will be available soon. Dates for Open House and the Harvest Festival will also be forthcoming. 

Staff have been busy this summer working on professional development, traveling, enjoying their families, and spending time reflecting on their craft as educators. The ICS facility hosted Adventure Camp and Summer School recently. 

Students’ families can expect to hear about our in-house mentoring program. We will be expanding that a bit this year to include all three schools. We are also pushing our Pathways Program down into the eighth grade. A dedicated piece of the schedule will support students as they delve into our hallmark program. Head of School’s weekly memos will continue under “In The News” tab on our website. Our Instagram link can be found on our website, or you can follow us @icspathways. An ICS Parent Facebook page is also up and running. Additionally, we will be collecting cell numbers and email addresses from families for use with a program that will allow alerts, cancellations, and weekly memos. 

Heading into the school year, we welcome several new members of the ICS family. We have a new superintendent, Chris Downing. Chris hails from Searsport, where he serves as their part-time superintendent. He also mentors a principal in the Rangeley Lakes Region. Chris comes with a wealth of experience and is a perfect fit for ICS. You might not see him very often, however, since he will be working only two days a month. 

     Meredith Diamond, our new Dean of Students, has been working diligently throughout the summer. Meredith’s work ethic and obvious commitment to ICS is going to be an incredible asset. She has already made strong ties within the greater community and eagerly awaits the arrival of staff and students. Meredith exhibits confidence and optimism in navigating the intricacies of her new position. She and the rest of the staff are fast becoming friends and partners in education. Welcome, Meredith!

     Arla Casselman will be teaching Science and Sustainability as well as working on K-12 curriculum alignment of the same. She will also play a crucial role in maintaining the gardens, greenhouses, and orchards. Arla recently taught at Medomak High School and brings a vast array of knowledge and experience. Another great catch, Arla is no stranger to hard work and multi-tasking. She owns and operates a blueberry business and shears sheep across the state in her “spare” time.  An avid runner, Arla is self disciplined and extremely capable. Welcome to ICS, Arla. 

     Lindsay Dakers is joining the ICS family as our Middle School and High school counselor. She and her family are in the process of moving to Isleboro from western Maine. Lindsay’s two children will be enrolled in our elementary school. As luck would have it, Lindsay has collaborated with the Rural Aspirations Project in the past and has developed a Pathways Program out of that experience. She possesses a buoyant attitude that is simply contagious.  Please say hello, introduce yourself, and welcome Lindsay when you get a chance.  

     Another key member of our new staff, Melissa Burns, has made herself at home in the front office. The importance of her role as our administrative assistant cannot be overstated. We are incredibly fortunate to have her on board. Melissa has moved to Islesboro with her husband Jesse and their four children--three of whom are enrolled at ICS. They come to us from Arizona and are thrilled with the warm welcome they have received from the island community. Let’s extend our welcome as Melissa settles into the rhythm of the school year. 

     Jesse Burns, Melissa’s husband, interviewed for our custodial position and made it clear that his broad skill set and past work experience make him the perfect person for the job. Jesse will be working after school hours for the most part, although you will probably see him coming and going as he appears quite comfortable in his new role. I suspect Jesse will soon be driving the bus as well. When you see Jesse, ask him about his dogs.

     Another new face can be found in our kitchen, working alongside Pete. Lisa Govoni has graciously accepted the position as assistant cook. Pete and Lisa have worked together in the past and are eager to impress us with delicious meals and friendly banter. Welcome, Lisa, and thank you in advance for your hard work and creativity.

     Over the summer, Melissa Olson decided to accept the Librarian position at the Islesboro Town Library. We wish her the best of luck and will miss her presence at school. At the time of this writing, the Librarian position at ICS is still open. Given our track record lately, we are confident we will find a wonderful candidate to fill this important role.

     Our student population continues to wax and wane with the seasons. We witnessed a decline in enrollment with the loss of several Magnet students at the end of the last school year. We also accepted several staff resignations. That being said, we have enrolled five new students due to new staff moving to the island. We’ve also gained a few students from other families that have either moved to the island or who were home-schooling. Additionally, there has been a rise in interest from families hoping to enroll students in the Magnet program. As the dust settles, we should end up with about the same enrollment as last year. An interesting commonality new families share is that they are aware of our incredible reputation as a school--in part, through social media and our website. 

     In other news, the Anne Dillon House is slowly making progress, and the solar array is near completion. The building has been spruced up with shiny floors and some fresh paint. The School Board has been busy with strategic planning and continues to support the efforts of the staff. 

     In closing this rather long welcome letter, we thank the custodial staff--Dick Cilley, Jesse Burns, and Tammy Sweetland--and admin assistant Melissa Burns for doing all the behind-the-scenes work that makes our beautiful school function as well as it does. 

     As always, it is my humble honor to serve and support Islesboro Central School to the best of my abilities. Let’s have a strong start and a terrific school year in all regards!


Chuck Hamm

Head of School