Pender Makin has been an alternative educator since 1995 – and has served as the Director of The REAL School since 2003. Pender believes that alternative learners are the best hope for the future of our world, because they were born to “think outside of the box”! Pender is a committed advocate for at risk students, their families, and the alternative programs that strive to meet their needs; she has participated in legislative committees and state-level task force efforts to help increase awareness of and support for the need to reach ALL learners. In addition to teaching University of Maine’s graduate courses for the Center of the Study of At Risk Youth, Pender provides professional development workshops at local, state, and national conferences on the topics of behavior management, developing a sense of community within schools and classrooms, service learning, alternative curriculum development, restorative justice, and related topics. Pender is a recipient of the Milken Educator Award and MTV’s Local Heroes Award, and was a Maine Teacher of the Year Regional Finalist in 2001. When she is not at school, Pender loves spending time at the beach with family, friends, and her dogs – Lucky and Scrappy Doo.
Martin Mackey has taught at The REAL School since 2007. He is currently the Assistant Principal working to "change lives". Previously he worked in a special education classroom in Westbrook, Maine. He received a BA in Sociology from the University of Montana, and a Masters degree in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine. Before getting into teaching he was a field instructor and administrator for numerous wilderness therapy programs throughout the American West. When he is not with students he enjoys riding his bike down hills and inventing yard games with his children.
Dr. Rod Nadeau started at the REAL School as a substitute teacher back in 1999 and was later hired as Adventure Based Counselor in the Spring of 2000. Rod holds a license in social work and is a Field Instructor for Social work at the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England. As an outdoor professional, he has been a licensed Maine Guide since 1987. He holds licenses in Whitewater Rafting, Sea Kayaking, Outdoor Recreation, and Commercial Boat Operation. Rod’s favorite activity is taking his family on multiday adventures sea kayaking, canoeing, and camping. He is also an ice & rock climber, and an avid cyclist participating in several charity rides. Most notably, he is on the Organizing Committee for the Patrick Dempsey Challenge, and he successfully raced up Mt. Washington in 2009.
Leslee Differ started at REAL in 2011. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked with adolescents in alternative learning settings for over seven years. Leslee received a BA in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire, a Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern Maine and is a Field Instructor for Social Work at the University of New England. She strongly believes in the potential for all students to grow given the opportunity to learn in an environment that fosters individuality and integrity. At school and with her family she enjoys playing sports, getting crafty and having outdoor adventures.
Paul Field has worked at the REAL school since 2004. He has 17 years experience working in adventure based alternative programs in Maine and New Mexico. Paul did his education training in Multi-cultural special education at the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico. He brings to the REAL school extensive experience in outdoor education having taught rock climbing and skiing to at risk youth in New Mexico for many years. Paul believes that every student wants to succeed and with a caring and patient teacher/mentor they will.
Christine Caputo came to REAL in 2007. She has worked in education at all age levels for over ten years. She enjoys the creativity that alternative education allows. You can usually find her in the kitchen making something yummy or in the lab with something yucky or anywhere in between. She likes getting involved in special projects and will write grants to fund these great ideas. “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” ~ Douglas Adams
Craig Haims has been teaching in both independent and public schools since 1995. He has been with the REAL School since 2003. He has his Masters degree from Pacific University and his Bachelors degree from the University of Rhode Island. Craig’s foundation in Alternative Education comes from working in wilderness programs for Outward Bound both in Oregon and in Maine. Working at the REAL school is a perfect fit for Craig has he is able to impart his love of adventure and integrated learning through the curriculum at the REAL School. When not at school, Craig can be found cycling with his two daughters, tending the greens in covered winter garden, knee deep in a book, or headed to camp!
Marie Reidman joined the REAL School in the spring of 2009. She believes that all students can learn and grow when met at their level, and she loves the close community atmosphere and opportunities that are offered at the REAL School. Prior to the REAL School, she taught English and Mathematics at Mahoney Middle School and then Brunswick Junior High School for 13 years. Marie graduated from Bowdoin College with a BA in English and the University of Southern Maine with a Masters in Instructional Leadership. She enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors, photography, and eating good food.
Rich Meserve has taught as a Special Education Teacher at REAL for the past 6 years. Prior to joining REAL, Rich worked in education for 4 years in Massachusetts. Before discovering the personally and professionally fulfilling field of education, Rich wore many hats. He owned a landscaping business, worked in various capacities at L.L. Bean, worked in sales and marketing for a publishing company, delivered mail, dabbled as a U.S. Customs Inspector, painted houses and was a stay-at-home dad. Rich has a BA from UMASS in Historical Education for Secondary Educators and is currently working on his Master’s degree. He enjoys spending time with his family and dog, working in the garden, playing basketball and appreciating the beauty of the outdoors. Rich was the recipient of the Milken Educator Award in 2010.
Susan Burns Chong joined the REAL School in 2012. In her past life, she served as a community organizer, kayak instructor, teacher, and group facilitator. Most recently, Susan worked with young people in foster care around the state promoting youth leadership and child welfare systems change. She is excited to work with the students at the REAL School because of the challenges and opportunities. Susan graduated with a Master’s degree in social work from Rutgers University in New Jersey. When she is not on the island, she enjoys spending time with her family, camping, gardening, swimming, reading poetry, and traveling.
Sarah Anderson is pursuing her dream job as a teacher at the REAL School. Sarah has been connected to the REAL School for the past 7 years as the Director of the Westbrook-RSU 14: 21st Century Community Learning Center's, Restorative Learning Program and Summer Adventure Academy. Throughout her 7 years she saw first hand the extraordinary teaching and learning practices used by the exceptional staff at the REAL School. She also was able to witness first-hand the personal growth and success of the many students who have passed through the REAL School. Although remaining dedicated to the creation and successful development of the 21st CCLC programs, Sarah always had a hope to one day teach at the REAL School. The 2011-2012 school year is Sarah's first year of teaching at the REAL Schools and loves the creativity of teaching, the collaborative learning with students, the different challenges and successes that each day brings, and the humor and professional support of her colleagues. Sarah studied Education and Criminology and the University of Southern Maine and is a licensed Social Worker. She is pursuing her Masters in Special Education. "I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite" -Buddy the Elf.
Page Nichols is our Restorative Learning Facilitator. In this position, Page coordinates with students and teachers to provide EDUCATIONAL, RESTORATIVE consequences when student behavior requires this. In place of traditional, punitive approach to school discipline, this program helps students to learn from behavioral mistakes and reintegrate into the school community, having restored what was impacted by their behavior. Page has volunteered at The REAL School since 2009, and is inspired by the devoted staff and community environment at the REAL School. She volunteers with a local non-profit that offers restorative justice programs to juvenile offenders in Cumberland County. Page also spends time in the Dominican Republic helping to establish Family Planning and Reproductive Health centers. She loves spending time on the ocean with family and friends.
Carol Creaser has been at REAL School for 26 years as a van driver. She has a BS from Gorham State College but has worked various jobs. When her son came to REAL School in 1985 as an eighth grader, the first director asked her to pick up another student, beginning her career at REAL. In her free time she enjoys her grandchildren, Alex and Samantha, traveling, crafts and her cats.
Barbara Libby started at the REAL school in 1990 as a volunteer. She has driven students to and from the school on vans for twenty-one years. Working with children makes her happy. She is the Queen of Safety and her favorite saying is: "Buckle up please, let me know when you are ready so we can go...". When she isn't safely transporting our students she enjoys hanging out with her boyfriend, Bob and taking her grandchildren to fun places.
Donna Lamb has worked for RSU 14 on and off for ten years, the last five as a van driver for REAL. She enjoys laughing and talking with the students. When she isn't driving a van she likes to work out at the gym and spend time helping to raise her grandchildren. Her greatest achievement is staying married to the love of her life for over 30 years!
John Mann has been at REAL four years driving students to and from school as one of the four van drivers. He applied for the job after closing a retail business in Windham and has enjoyed it from day one. He knew he would enjoy working with high school students from past teaching experiences as a physical education teacher, but what he likes best about this job is getting to know the kids as individuals. Spending time with them on a daily basis helps him get to know them quite well. He likes listening to their good times and bad, troubles, goals and anything they want to talk about with some exceptions of course, but it's also very rewarding when at times they might also listen to some fatherly advice. He has a wonderful family. He and his wife have been married for 28 years. He has three great children ages 36, 25, and 22 and a beautiful yellow lab. He likes all kinds of outdoor activities, but his favorites are surfing, golf, fishing, hiking, cycling, etc.
Joe McNerty knows The REAL school from all angles. He is a former student who graduated in 2007 and has come back to impart some of his humor, wisdom and excellent driving skills on our students. He enjoys video games, reading and writing and is excited to back at REAL.