Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, August 11, 2011
Isle au Haut school celebrates 100th birthday
Teachers Lisa Turner, left, and Paula Greatorex, right, in the doorway of the 100-year-old Isle au Haut Rural School. Says Greatorex, “Teaching on an island in a one-room school house is a unique and challenging experience, and the best job I have ever had.”
by Kate Taylor
On August 5 the Isle au Haut Rural School turned 100 years old; an open house commemorating the event was held on Saturday, August 6. Residents, visitors, former and current students and teachers, and The New Trad Trio music group participated in the program. Pupils Andrew Barter, Michael Barter, and Alex Tully prepared a calendar of their artwork that sold “like hotcakes” during the indoor-outdoor event.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s there were four school houses on Isle au Haut, and one school each on adjacent islands York and Merchant. The school district then taught more than 40 pupils while serving a year-round population of over 300 residents. Now three students are educated in the K-8 school and the year-round population hovers around 40 in the winter. With perhaps the highest teacher-student ratio in the state, Isle au Haut Rural School graduates go on to successful private and public high school and college experiences.
While current school enrollment is at an historic low since the early 1970s, there is significant hope for increased enrollment: with the help of a Maine State Housing Authority grant and other funding sources, including donations, the Isle au Haut Community Development Corporation will build two high quality, affordable, energy-efficient rental homes. In conjunction with that work, ICDC has launched a Web site, www.isleauhaut.org, to help attract families that will benefit from and positively contribute to the island town.
A recent comprehensive plan survey indicates most residents would like to see the population double. Community efforts, including the building of the affordable year-round rental homes, center on implementing expected recommendations of the plan to ensure sustainable island living that includes educating its youth.