Foundations of Learning

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Our curriculum cultivates curiosity, integrity, and civic-mindedness and prepares students for post-secondary success, whether in college, technical training, or the workforce.

Social Change

At a time when social media drives self-worth and polarization dominates headlines, HCA students will make positive changes in their lives by demonstrating personal responsibility and resiliency. What do we have control over? How can we persevere when the decks are seemingly stacked against us? How can we stop pointing fingers and start getting to work? In short, how can we take control of circumstances and change our world for the better?

We recognize that students’ lives are complex, and practicing personal responsibility and resiliency is easier said than done. That is why every single day, we give students the tools to overcome whatever obstacles get in the way of their own education. It could be distractions from social media. It could be an illness of a family member or an argument with a friend. It could be hunger or instability. Or maybe they just haven’t been challenged by a school to overcome obstacles and take control until now.

This is what sets HCA apart from other schools. Yes, students learn algebra and chemistry. They read Shakespeare and research invasive species. Beyond core curriculum, however, exists a comprehensive effort at all levels of HCA to go beyond textbooks and teach students how to be the change they want in the world.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Three middle-school students take turns addressing a large crowd and a panel of business experts at the 2016 “Narwhal Tank” pitch competition. They are pitching a business plan for a small engine repair business, standing beside a riding mower they restored from trash-status to full-throttle. Over the last 2 months, they have done market research, experimented on engines, budgeted for parts, and projected revenue, and honed a public speech to prepare for this moment. In the process, they successfully launched a business, met national standards in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Economics, and developed 21st Century entrepreneurial skills that will help them secure satisfying work as adults.

This is the heart of the Entrepreneurial Spirit at HCA. Whether students are writing, directing, and shooting an original documentary, developing an aquaculture system, or investigating the effects of climate change and invasive species on local forests and coves, our academic coursework challenges students to go beyond the traditional acquisition of facts and skills, to truly learn where those facts and skills come from and contextualize them in their real-life applications.

Project-based and Place-based Learning

HCA creates learning experiences for students that are grounded in the local community and environment. HCA focuses on preserving the Midcoast’s heritage while preparing students to live, work, and thrive in the rapidly changing coastal economy. Our academic coursework at HCA involves students in projects centered around complex real-world problems that are relevant locally and that matter globally.

Place-based learning boosts students’ engagement, academic achievement, and sense of personal efficacy as stewards of their local environment and community. Students make tangible contributions to resolve local environmental issues and conserve local environmental quality. They forge strong ties between local social and environmental organizations and their constituencies in the schools and community. They improve quality of life and economic vitality right here in our own backyard.

Outdoor Exploration

HCA is dedicated to returning vitality and joy to our students’ educational experience by providing a dynamic natural environment that fulfills an individual’s fundamental need for exploration and discovery. Through a deepening connection between us and the natural world, we guide HCA students toward resilience, balance, and social growth.

We also aim to inspire a life-long dedication to environmental stewardship and a sense of community through deep nature connection mentoring. In our natural learning environments, our students gain a better understanding of how all of life is connected and experience how our actions influence the world around us. Through our nature-based programs, we seek to support the health and well being of our families, to play a supportive role in the local community, and to be a vital component in the growing global effort to ensure every Mainer’s right to experience the natural world as part of their education now and in the future.