Island Schoolhouse: One Room for All
Paperback, $20, ISBN 978-0-88448-340-3
6 x 9, 320 pages, photographs
"Schools are the glue that hold island communities together. Eva Murray provides passionate descriptions of why the islands' one-room schoolhouses have not only survived, but continued to thrive in the Internet era."
—Philip Conkling, Founder and President, Island Institute, and author of Islands in Time: A Natural and Cultural History of the Islands of the Gulf of Maine
"I had the good fortune to educate my children in island schools and served for many years on our school board. And, while North Haven is much bigger (350 year-round) than our neighbor Matinicus, I found that Eva's beautiful writing accurately captures the challenges and gifts of island life. What a wonderful book!"
—Chellie Pingree, Congresswoman, 1st District of Maine
On six remote, windblown Maine islands, the children are still educated in one-room schools. After two mainland one-room schools closed in 2009, these islands maintain the last taxpayer-funded public one-room elementary schools in the state. But despite very small student populations and sometimes shrinking communities, these remaining schools are not slated to close. Consolidation is impractical, a daily commute is usually impossible, island families are determined to keep their communities viable, and all agree that a school is a central part of a stable, year-round community.
You might think that these tiny schools are an anachronism, offering an old-fashioned approach to education. You'd be wrong. They are among the most technologically savvy schools in the state and offer a culturally rich educational experience. Author Eva Murray moved to Matinicus in 1987 to teach in the one-room school, married and raised a family on the island, and has served on the school board and volunteered in the school. She has traveled from island to island, collecting the stories that tell how these small communities promise their handful of children a modern education within the context of a specialized and sometimes extreme offshore lifestyle. The hows and whys will fascinate educators, and the details of island life will interest everyone.
When Eva Murray took a job on Matinicus Island in 1987, she expected to stay a year as the island's kindergarten-through-eighth-grade teacher. When the school year ended, she turned down her graduate school acceptance, remained on Matinicus, and in 1989 married the island electrician. She and her husband Paul raised their two children on Matinicus and continue to live and work full time on the island. Eva is a wilderness emergency medical technician, operates a small bakery, has served in several positions of municipal government, and has been a regular columnist for area publications since 2003 including Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors, Down East Online, the Free Press, and Working Waterfront. She is also the author of the book Well Out to Sea: Year-Round on Matinicus Island.
Tilbury House, Publishers
103 Brunswick Avenue
Gardiner, Maine 04345