Local Impact • Milbridge Elementary School

Maria and Kandi.jpg

Milbridge Elementary Principal Maria White knows rural education well. Her grandmothers and her mom and dad taught, and her dad also served as a principal, and superintendent in the region. Maria has been working at Milbridge Elementary since 2007 and says, “The impact TREE has had here was really driven home when two particular students, who used to really dread school, became excited to come to school every day because now we have something offered each week that they really love.” TREE provides the school with extra personnel to support programs that have been important for students and teachers, including funding Maine Outdoor School programs, Somedays, and Microadventures, which all honor and support student voice in authentic hands-on ways. Maria said that a critically important cornerstone of the TREE model “is that they are providing the mental health supports to help meet even more needs here.”

Mental health supports are offered 2.5 days per week and include supports for school staff. Kandi Robertson, a registered play therapist and TREE’s mental health provider at Milbridge Elementary, identifies what’s working: “TREE really fits with my philosophy for thinking about supporting kids in their whole environment and all of their needs—not just academic needs. Together, we support the needs children have to thrive within all environments.” When reflecting on TREE’s impact, she said, “I think it goes back to TREE working to support every need. If we can’t help meet that need directly, we can connect a student or teacher to someone who can.”