Maine Academy of 
  Natural Sciences
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Name:          Maine Academy of Natural Sciences

                     At Good Will-Hinckley

Address:      16 Prescott Drive

                      P.O. Box 159

                      Hinckley, Maine  04944

Phone:          207-238-4034



Products and Services:

-charter high school - grades 9-12

-programs in agriculture, forestry, 

environmental studies

What Makes The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences Unique?

The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (MeANS) at Good Will-Hinckley is located in Hinckley, Maine.  It is situated on an impressive parcel of land that is associated with a rich history of farming and a long-standing tradition of providing a home and a place of learning for youngsters.  Over the years the property has undergone many changes. It has been very exciting to observe how it is now the site of the first charter school in Maine and the location of the first high school in the state to focus on the natural sciences.  As in its earlier days, when the students were under the direction and guidance of Reverend George Walter Hinckley, Good Will-Hinckley continues to have a focus on farming and providing a home and innovative educational program for young adults.

Educators are well aware that students have different styles of learning.  A traditional classroom setting is often not conducive to the student who benefits from an experiential learning style.  Alternative approaches to learning that incorporate hands-on activities have been proven to be very effective in reaching the students who are not successful in a conventional school setting.  Reverend George Hinckley, who founded the Hinckley Home in 1889, understood the value that a farm and the outdoors played in providing a full education. Learning responsibility, contributing to the community, and acquiring life skills have always been a priority at Good Will-Hinckley.

Over the years the Hinckley Home frequently became a home for students who had behavioral or emotional issues or no place to live.  The Board of Directors of Good Will-Hinckley decided to move in a different direction in 2009, and residential care was suspended. Fortunately, a group of educators and funders understood the critical need for a school that focused on the natural sciences and that offered a learning environment for students who were not thriving in a traditional school setting.  These perceptive educators and funders were fully aware of the incredible potential of the Good Will-Hinckley campus in regard to the natural sciences because of all of its diverse habitats.

At first, efforts were directed to establish a magnet school at the Good Will-Hinckley location.  With a magnet school, negotiating for funding of students with the Superintendent from each student’s district would have had to take place. A charter school, on the other hand, guarantees that the students receive funding from the state for each student’s education.  After an enormous dedication of time and effort and huge amounts of paperwork, the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences proudly became the first charter school in the state of Maine.

The generous contributions of various donors

helped to move the establishment of the charter school forward. MeANS is particularly grateful to the Unity Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. Because of a million dollar contribution from the Alfond Foundation, the boarding of students on campus was able to become a reality.  Students have the opportunity to live in cottages that accommodate up to eight students and which are staffed by experienced Campus Living Advisors.

Those involved in the planning of MeANS were

extremely thoughtful individuals in that every

effort was made to see that students could attend

the school from all parts of the state.  Despite the fact that the students at MeANS only attend school for four days each week and have only an average of two hours each day of classroom instruction, this high school for students in grades nine through twelve meets the ninety Common Core/Maine Learning Results expectations.  Unlike traditional school, the students at MeANS attend school throughout the year.  Considering that MeANS is focused on agriculture, local food production, sustainability and environmental sciences, it makes full sense for students to be involved in the planting and tending of the gardens and the care of livestock, and the maintenance of the greenhouses, etc. on a year-round basis.

The school has three van drivers and provides transportation to day students.  For students coming from a distance, there are statewide drop-off points  for the three-day weekends. Students can return home on Friday afternoon and be picked up late Monday so that they will be back on campus for resuming school on Tuesday morning.  Forty percent of the fifty students presently attending MeANS were planning to drop out of school before coming to the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, so the school is obviously fulfilling an extremely critical role for the youth in the state.

Each MeANS student has a mentor who checks

in with them on a daily basis.  Each student also

chooses an independent project which correlates with their interests.  When Unique Maine Farms visited MeANS this past May, freshman Tehya spoke about the sunflower garden that she hoped to establish at the new school. Austin was looking forward to the opportunity to learn mechanical work with diesel trucks.  Tehya and Austin had both stepped forward to help with tending and caring for the chickens that are raised on campus.

Alex is a senior at MeANS.  He is very interested in music and has helped with the coffee houses that take place each month on campus.  Students and the community have participated in these coffee houses and the money that they raised from the baked good sales was donated to the Fairfield Food Pantry. 

Alex is presently involved with a paid internship

at the Snakeroot Organic Farm in Pittsfield.  His goal is to become a sustainable homesteader. His independent project has been the development of a forest garden on campus.  He hopes that it will eventually be used as a park and outdoor classroom.  He has planned seven different layers with the forest canopy and shrubs, bushes, herbs, vines, and ground covers.  There are fifty-one edible plants in the garden.  He received a grant from the Jobs for Maine Graduates program and Carrabec High School to establish this forest garden.  He still is in the process of applying for grants to acquire funding to expand the garden.

Student voice, choice, and responsibility are significant components of the make-up of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences.  Developing a positive learning community is paramount.  Responsible socializing is encouraged. When Unique Maine Farms visited the campus, the students and staff were busy preparing for the prom.

If you have never been to the Good Will-Hinckley property, then you have not had the opportunity to see how it is such a perfect location for experiential learning.  There are  2450 acres that include expansive fields, forests, river frontage, and a pond.  It is home to seven different walking trails, and thirty-two buildings including the Carnegie Library, the Glenn Stratton Learning Center,  and the L.C. Bates Museum.

A separate webpage on the L.C. Bates Museum

has been included in this profile because Unique Maine Farms views it as one of the “hidden jewels” of Maine.  It includes thousands of artifacts relating to Maine’s cultural and natural history, art, and archaeology.  It is home to Maine history, an expansive rock and mineral collection, and bird and animal dioramas.  What a resource it is for students at the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences to be able to learn about the natural world and Maine history directly from such a museum just steps away from their school!

The curriculum at MeANS includes the seasonal cultivation of flowers and vegetables.  Three large commercial greenhouses have been purchased for the school and one has recently been erected.  Plans are in place for year-round greenhouse production.  Students will learn about harvesting, packing, and shipping.  Information about pest control will be covered. Other topics in the curriculum include soil science, composting, and sustainability issues such as recycling and energy use.  Students study forestry and help to create and maintain trails on the property.  They also participate in maple syrup production.

Nutrition, healthy food preparation, and the support of local food sources are emphasized at MeANS.  The school kitchen is a classroom and the home of a Health and Nutrition class, work study, and a culinary internship program. When Unique Maine Farms visited the campus in May, the students raved about the incredible food that was served in the campus dining hall. Kelly LaCasse, the Kitchen Manager, explained that she is committed to using fresh local food.  The kitchen focuses on “from scratch cooking.”

MeANS was the first public school in Maine to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Kelly is greatly looking forward to produce from the students’ gardens and the greenhouses. Sustainable practices used in the kitchen include composting pre-consumer organic waste and distributing post-consumer waste to local pig farmers.  The kitchen is home to the campus recycling center.

The Kennebec Valley Community College purchased 500 acres of the Good Will-Hinckley property in January of 2012, and is in the process of creating a satellite campus where Maine’s only two-year Associates Degree in agriculture will be offered.  They are renovating and opening the farm. Students from MeANS will have the opportunity to take a course at this community college.

One of the priorities at MeANS is to work with students on a plan to graduate with either a career or college in mind.  Students have the opportunity to explore careers in farming, forestry, sustainability, business, and other related fields such as environmental studies and alternative energy. Workforce skill training is part of the curriculum, as well as introducing the students to independent living skills.  Graphic design and networking are taught in addition to other marketing skills.  Students learn about  business by being introduced to accounting, banking, communication, and business-related software.

The agricultural program at MeANS is in its formative stage.  An organic garden has been planted with such vegetables as broccoli, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Plans are in the works to expand the amount of food that is grown for the cafeteria and the residences of the students living on campus.

Students are encouraged to develop a positive and supportive community at MeANS.  They are guided by role models at the school and in the local area and are introduced to the importance of civic engagement.  Because their curriculum is student-centered and because it is self-paced the success rate of the first year in operation proved most impressive.  A ninety-four percent attendance rate was maintained and every one of the seniors graduated on time.  For individuals interested in learning more about this high school that focuses on agriculture, forestry, and environmental studies, it is recommended that you contact Lisa Sandy, the Director of Admissions, at 207-238-4034 or email her at:

Photo courtesy of Maine Academy of Natural Sciences’ website -Kevin Couture Photography

The CampusMaine_Academy_Hinckley_Campus.html
Wish ListMaine_Academy_Wish_List.html
L.C. Bates
for the Prom!Maine_Academy_Prom.html

Students and staff gather in the kitchen preparing food.

Tehya and Austin stand in front of the chicken shed that students designed and built.  They volunteer to care for the chickens.

Austin shares information about one of the trees that he planted in his forest garden.

Kelly LaCasse is the Kitchen Manager who is committed to using fresh, local produce.

The L.C. Bates Museum is a “hidden jewel of Maine.”

The Guilford Cottage is home to the girls who reside on campus.

Old Farm

Hall Cottage