Juniper Hill School for Place-Based Education, in Alna, has a mission to bring the benefits of nature and place-based education to every child in Maine. And last spring, the school’s governing board and Executive Director Anne Stires created a road map for achieving those objectives. Squarely at the center was the need for a director of operations, someone who fully embraced the school’s vision and values, and who could meaningfully partner with our executive director to ensure our onsite program remained healthy and strong as we expanded our impact beyond the Alna campus.
Despite receiving numerous impressive applications, we continued to search for what we thought was the impossible. And then we met Martha Sullivan. With unanimous board approval, the school is pleased to welcome Sullivan as our new director of operations.
For Sullivan, Juniper Hill School embodies the progressive values she has embraced over the last two decades as a teacher, school administrator, curriculum developer, and children’s nature book author. Sullivan looks forward to being part of the school’s team that makes access to the benefits of place-based education more available to all children. She has seen firsthand that a one-size-fits-all approach can result in creative and independent-thinking students falling through the cracks, and that finding ways to incorporate authentic, joyful and organic learning opportunities can unlock the full learning potential of all students.
Her master’s dissertation on Education for Sustainable Development in the unschooling community further validated these convictions and the opportunity to serve as an interim administrator at a Steiner-inspired school for adolescents in rural Ireland allowed her to witness the transformative power of an authentic, place and project-based approach to learning.
Her desire to further enhance this approach with an even higher degree of student autonomy led her to the Forest School movement and, when fate intervened and brought her to Midcoast Maine, she discovered Juniper Hill School and immediately recognized the perfect alignment of her stars. She brings to the post her experience as a teacher, science department head, school administrator, volunteer coordinator, curriculum developer, and children’s book author.
Sullivan grew up in Washington, D.C., and has six wonderfully unique and inspirational children. She has worked and lived in the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and the U.S. and, as of September, she and husband Chris will call Bath their home.