The mission of Poland Spring Academy is to create an educational environment that enables all learners to become successful, fulfilled individuals who are academically enriched, self-confident, independent, technologically proficient, mature, and globally minded.
PSA Values and Philosophy
We believe that all students can have success, all youth do want to succeed, and through our program students will have that opportunity.
We treat everyone with respect
From the youngest student to the most elderly staff or volunteer, Poland Spring Academy intentionally practices and enjoys the benefits of growing together in an environment of respect towards one another.
We get to know each student on a personal level
Our school is like a big family. We teach acceptance, tolerance, self-worth, love and basic moral values and principles.
We look at each new student’s strengths and weaknesses without focusing on labels
We have found that many students who have been unable to perform at an expected level have missed some basic concepts in their early schooling. Helping them to fill in the gaps, while guiding them forward with new skills, provides them with the opportunity to succeed at a new level.
We focus on how individual students learn
Presenting information to a student in a way that is most appropriate for him or her enables the individual to more easily and effectively grasp new concepts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is PSA a special education school?
While we are not a special education institution, our classes are structured with small numbers, family-type relationships, and a variety of approaches to instruction, accommodating many of the needs of students with some learning challenges as well as those who are advanced academically.
How many students attend our school?
At present, enrollment ranges from 45-60 students. Future growth in student population will be in accordance with our ability to maintain a 5:1 student to staff ratio.
Is PSA licensed?
Yes. Poland Spring Academy is licensed as a Non-traditional Limited Purpose Private School through the state of Maine, which means we serve not only our own students, but surrounding towns can and do send us students as well. Those sent from other schools are considered to be students at the sending school, simply attending their classes at an alternative location.
With positive support from officials at the state level, as well as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, our programs meet the academic standards of more traditional schools, while providing the freedom for us to design individualized programs appropriate for each student. We have had students go on from our school to attend Ivy League colleges, community colleges, and all branches of the military.
Is PSA a religious school?
No. We do however provide time for students to pray or collect their thoughts in the morning, before beginning the activities and academic rigors of the school day.
Brief historical timeline of
Poland Spring Academy
1999 – The school founder Robbie Howard left her full-time job teaching adult education to start the school, starting with 1 modular classroom and 16 students. By the end of the first year, the school had expanded to 24 students. Staff was hired to work on accreditation, develop curricula for each student and teach small group classes.
2000 – The second year started with 26 students, returning staff, and some new teachers. By the end of the year, the school was accredited by the National Association of Private Schools
2001 – The third year started with a full staff and 38 students, and specialty courses such as photography, computer hardware training and a Junior Maine Guides course were in place. By the end of the year Poland Spring Academy had 84 students. Out of 84 students, 17 graduated at the end of the year.
2004 – Numerous supporters helped the academy acquire a parcel of land on Bailey Hill Road in Poland, and 2004 was busy with moving to the new location. Our friends, volunteers, and generous donors’ help and good spirits made the main road into the school, “Hope Springs,” possible.
2015 – After the loss of 2 very precious members of our school family, including her husband, Robbie stepped down from the role of President, with Melanie LaFrinea taking on the challenge as head of the school Present and Future – The future of the academy is a journey of growth and development, including a new playground, and a new classroom building in 2016!
Poland Spring Academy’s dedicated and energetic staff, donors, and supporters, are building an establishment that will be here for youth and families for many years to come.
About the Founder
A lifelong dream came true for our founders, Gary and Roberta Howard, when Poland Spring Academy opened its doors in 1999. Their dream to help kids and families had been a life passion for both of them, made evident through foster parenting over 30 young people and doing respite care for many others. The journey also took Roberta from childhood abuse, to obtaining three college degrees including an Associates in Social Work, a Bachelors in Rehabilitation Services, and a Masters in Christian Education.
Roberta has been recognized in the community by receiving the 1999 Commissioners Recognition Award for Teacher of the Year, she received a Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Public Service from the Jefferson’s award Commission, and has also received the Hidden Hero Award in Oxford County. She is featured in the Who’s Who publication for colleges and universities as well. Although she has been recognized for numerous achievements, she feels the real heroes are her husband Gary, and the team of dedicated workers who have shared her vision.