GARDINER — The Maine Cabin Masters and Gardiner school community have been keeping a secret behind Gardiner Area High School since November, and now the secret is out. 

The Maine Cabin Masters crew built an outdoor classroom for the school and for Sharon Gallant, the high school’s earth science teacher and Kennebec County’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.

The completed project was unveiled during Monday night’s episode of “Maine Cabin Masters” on the Magnolia Network. 

“It’s incredible, it really is,” Gallant said before the episode aired. “There were features I knew I wanted, and I feel like they took everything I wanted and turned it into everything, and more than I could ever imagine.” 

The project provided opportunity for several crew members to return to the high school from which they graduated before becoming famous as the Maine Cabin Masters.

Known locally for their business, the Kennebec Cabin Co., the central Maine construction and design team renovates lakeside cabins across Maine, which are featured on the cable television series.


The team members pick a few community projects to do every year that are not related to cabins, but this is the first time they have done a project with a school district.   

“For us to do a local school to work on, picking Gardiner was awesome,” Jared “Jedi” Baker said. “It’s where we went. Ryan (Eldridge) and I graduated from here, and we have a lot of great memories. The program, the outdoor science program, it’s great for the kids. It gets them outside. It gets them learning stuff with nature that you don’t get taught every day.”  

Gallant said she saw the finished classroom for the first time in December, when it was revealed to her and the Gardiner Area High School community. It brought tears to her eyes. She said she had always wanted an outdoor classroom because she takes her students outside every day, no matter the weather.

Gallant’s ninth grade earth science class is focused entirely on the outdoors. She takes students outside to learn how to pitch a tent, take soil samples, make a shelter and build a fire. In the spring, her class volunteers with the Gardiner-based nonprofit Upstream to help the alewives in their annual journey swimming up Cobbosseecontee Stream to spawn.   

Gallant said she has had success using experimental education for students who have not performed well on tests. She said this approach has helped certain students grasp the subject, which has helped decrease the dropout rate. 

Gallant now has a place to work with the elements in the forested area behind the school. The classroom has a long table where students can set up microscopes and storage for their muddy boots and jackets. It is outfitted with Gardiner Area High School banners and flags, along with a few chairs.


The outdoor classroom is along a path and adjacent to the athletic fields. While the classroom was originally planned to have no electricity, the Maine Cabin Masters surprised her with solar panels.

Brad Weston, a carpenter on the Maine Cabin Masters team, was one of Gallant’s earth science students.   

“It’s nice to build something academic and not just athletic,” Weston said, noting the school’s campus has changed since he graduated in 2014.  

The Maine School Administrative District 11 School Board approved the project in October, although it could not share details with the public, other than that filming and construction would take place during school days.

Construction of the outdoor classroom began in November, and the Maine Cabin Masters team visited the site on a weekly basis to finish the classroom by Dec. 19, when it filmed the big reveal with Gallant, Principal Lauren Arnold and first-year high school student Isaac Marquis. Other members of the Gardiner school community were also present at the reveal.

The board did not have to allocate any money because the project was funded through a $140,000 grant Gallant had received from the Maine Department of Education through its Rethinking Responsive Education Values grant. The grant is awarded to schools with innovative or pilot programs.


About $70,000 of the grant went to the build, and the remaining $30,000 allowed Gallant to buy jackets, mittens, boots and other outdoor gear from L.L.Bean because some students did not have winter coats or boots.

Patricia Hopkins, superintendent of the Gardiner-area school district, said the new outdoor classroom will be key to the educations of many students at Gardiner Area High School.

“We are really excited to be able to engage with the Maine Cabin Masters,” Hopkins said, “and are so grateful for them to construct a classroom that will hopefully really inspire students in years to come, and give an opportunity for some real hands-on experiences.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the correct award from the Rethinking Responsive Education Grant. 

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