New school may set up at Morris Farm

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 8:00am

    The impending closure of Chewonki Foundation’s elementary and middle school in Wiscasset has inspired the possible opening of a school at Morris Farm. Responding to email questions after Wiscasset Newspaper got a press release Monday night about the possible partnership between Morris Farm and Brightfield School for Place-Based Education, Maria Vettese of Brightfield Development Committee wrote: “Yes. Brightfield came to be because the Chewonki Foundation board decided to close the elementary and middle school.”

    Nov. 4, Chewonki announced the school would close June 7. A spokesman said Chewonki did not end up with a financially viable model for the school that began in 2015 as a pilot project. 

    Monday night’s release, sent by Morris Farm’s Jessica Bourne, did not mention the Chewonki school’s closure. The release did refer to a regional “gap” in placed-base schools. The release shared that “Morris Farm Trust Board of Directors is in discussion with a group of local community members regarding the potential addition of Brightfield, a school for place-based education, on the Morris Farm property. This partnership would allow The Morris Farm Trust (MFT) to continue to expand educational opportunities on the farm, a large part of the Farm’s original mission, as well as to allow for community engagement in and revitalization of the Farm and surrounding areas.

    “The Board of Directors is carefully considering the terms of the arrangement in light of MFT's guidelines regarding ownership of structures on the property, with details to be determined,” the release continued. “Brightfield's founding community is dedicated to filling the gap in Midcoast Maine's place-based educational offerings and are enthusiastic about the possibility of partnering with The Morris Farm Trust.”

    In the email replies to Wiscasset Newspaper, Vettesse said Brightfield has had no prior locations and has held no classes; and the potential partnership with Morris Farm came about “through connections and discussions with members of our founding community and the Morris Farm Trust Board of Directors.”