New head of school named at Harpswell Coastal Academy

Harpswell Coastal Academy Board of Directors has appointed Scott Barksdale as the new head of school, effective immediately.

In related news, Carrie Branson has stepped down as executive director.


“Scott brings to the job a solid background in teaching, restorative practices and school leadership, and a valuable familiarity with HCA and its educational model,” Chairwoman of the Board Cynthia Shelmerdine said. “We have strong confidence that Scott will serve the school well in this role, as he has in others, and that he will set a good tone for the school both internally and externally.”

In making the decision to appoint Barksdale, the board identified key priorities for the coming years, including the school’s academic and social climate, and ensuring the fiscal sustainability of the school.  In addition to solid academics, HCA’s curriculum focuses on entrepreneurship and social change.

“At HCA, we teach students how to change their worlds,” Barksdale said.  “For some students, this means learning the skillset and mindset of successful entrepreneurship.  For others, it means learning how to lead for social change.

“For all of our students, it means figuring out more clearly what they care about and how they can change their world.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Shelmerdine said, “We very much appreciate Carrie Branson’s efforts; she has been with the school from its beginning, and for the past two years has provided sensible, stable and compassionate leadership.”

The school has made substantial progress in recent years, including the renewal of its charter, refining leadership roles and academic programs, strengthening relationships with community partners and other charter schools, and stabilizing of operations at the two campuses: a middle school in Harpswell and a high school in Brunswick.

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