FRENCHBORO — Mount Desert Island Regional School System officials are determined to keep Long Island’s one-room schoolhouse open following the departure of the teacher who resigned after the school’s enrollment dropped to two students.

Mindi Vestal submitted her resignation before the February school vacation. Although there is a substitute teacher on the island in Penobscot Bay, there are currently no students enrolled at the school in Frenchboro.

Mindi Vestal Photo from the Mount Desert Islander

“We’re sad to see her go,” Superintendent Marc Gousse said this week. “We were all surprised when she left. … Outside the complexity of a one-room schoolhouse, it’s a huge commitment.”

Vestal, an Arizona native, moved to Frenchboro on Long Island at the end of last summer. She had four students enrolled for the 2018-19 school year ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.

“Her resignation took us by surprise; it was of her choice,” Frenchboro School Principal Jill Cohen said. “Our enrollment was down to two students at the time of her resignation.”

Once Vestal resigned, one family took two students out of the school and is homeschooling them, Gousse said.


Prior to Vestal’s resignation, the family of the other two students had approached the school district to see about temporarily enrolling in Pemetic Elementary School in Southwest Harboro, because the family would be based in Bass Harbor throughout much of the winter because of work-related choices. This was agreed to as a temporary arrangement by the school district and these two students are expected to return to Frenchboro School before the end of this school year.

“We have no intention to close the school,” Gousse said. “We are actively seeking a full-time teacher.”

Both Gousse and Cohen said there have been applicants for the position, which was recently advertised for grades K-8.

“We are hoping to find the right candidate,” Cohen said. “Working on an island provides some unique experiences for both the students as well as teachers.”

In 2010, Frenchboro’s population was 61, although Gousse believes it may be less than a third of that for year-round residents.

Long Island is just over 8 miles from the Bass Harbor Ferry Terminal on Mount Desert Island. Ferry trips are only three days a week and often involve an overnight stay on the island or the mainland in order to accomplish any business.

Cohen travels to Frenchboro, weather permitting, on the first and third Wednesdays of the month when a ferry runs in the morning and returns the same day later in the afternoon. Otherwise, she frequently uses technology to communicate with the teacher, school board members and students on the island.

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