Our Story

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Carleton Project was founded by Houlton teacher and Carleton Project Principal, Alan Morris.  After 20 years of teaching in public schools,  Alan started a private high school in Presque Isle in 1999 with 12 students, and the school has since grown to include 3 additional locations that serve over 50 students a year.

Carleton Project’s mission has been, and will always be, focused on student success.   The school is 100% tuition driven, and enjoys important partnerships with public schools that have come to understand the direct benefits for their schools and communities when they support students they recommend to our schools.


Taking inspiration from the Social Influence Model of behavior study, Carleton Project strives to create an environment in which students are nurtured and encouraged to change their own preconceived notions about success and failure in education.  Creating a safe culture to explore and thrive, students are enabled to accomplish their own educational goals within the classroom, as well as create the building blocks to ensure success beyond high school.


The school is organized and funded under the authority of the Board of Directors of Carleton Project, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation operating a Private High School approved by the Maine Department of Education.


Alan Morris is the Principal of Carleton Project schools.

Carleton Project
P.O. Box 562
Houlton, ME 04730



The school operates all year, Monday through Thursday. There is a traditional Christmas Break and a modified summer schedule.  Students who work the traditional Potato Harvest Break may be granted time off. Seniors who are working or taking college classes will have modified schedules.


Each school program is staffed by a teacher and other support personnel as needed.

Presently, the Curriculum Review Team includes:

Guidance: Len McHatten & Sandy Smith

Social Studies & Government: Alan Morris

The Sciences: Dr. Jason Johnston

English & Language Arts: Eric Pelkey and Jennifer Graham

Parent Support

The philosophy of the school identifies parent participation and awareness of educational activity as a crucial ingredient for student success. There is a pro-active approach to increasing parent participation in their child’s education through formal meetings, as well as informal activity.

The approach identifies specific requirements of parental involvement that coincide with the experience of new students enrolled in the school. First of all, parents are required to be a part of the screening process. If the student is accepted, parents form a partnership with the teachers at the school, to stand as positive models for social interaction, with the parent(s) committing to an interest in their child’s education upon enrollment.

Student Progress Team

The same group of people who are a part of the student’s screening committee, including the parent or legal guardian, becomes the student’s Progress Team. The team consists of a group most committed to the success of the student and, most in the position to help identify barriers to student success. Within the first semester of enrollment for any new student, or as deemed necessary for any student by parents or school staff, the Progress Team will assemble. All those involved will be expected to share information about student performance, especially the student. The school will facilitate the meeting and call on all parties, when appropriate, to be part of any specific plans for redirection. Minutes of the meeting and any commendations or recommendations will be recorded.

Educational Planning

The school realizes that many students who are enrolled have had negative educational experiences that have affected their success. In short, they may be behind in earned credits or required coursework. The focus of their success must then be based on expectations that they, and school staff, have for performance success and, ultimately, graduation. The school places a great deal of emphasis on consolidating school records in terms of credits earned and helps the student plan to pursue areas of interest that support educational goals in the form of an annual Alternative Educational Plan (A.E.P.). Educational planning takes place regularly as student needs arise. Permanent educational and immunization records are maintained at the school.



Students need to be prepared to perform complex tasks in a modern world. The program is committed to providing an educational experience that offers a chance to learn the skills that go beyond content areas and focus on human development. The methods by which subjects are taught focus on processes that are central to problem solving, group dynamics and inquiry within academic disciplines. These include a focus on both planning and goal setting. The results are unique to each student.

The school curriculum and philosophy uphold the Guiding Principles of the Maine Learning Results where each student will leave school as:

I. A clear and effective communicator
II. A self-directed and life-long learner
III. A creative and practical problem solver
IV. A responsible and involved citizen
V. A collaborative and quality worker
VI. An integrative and informed thinker

Staff members determine academic goals for each class. In addition to content area, these goals include:

Reading & Writing Across the Curriculum / Computer skills / Time Management  / Student Presentations / Problem-Solving / Working Cooperatively / Relevant and Meaningful Experiences / Community Awareness / Research Skills / Career Planning

Carleton graduates are very well prepared for life after high school, regardless of where life may take them.  Our distinctive Core requires students to graduate with a plan in mind, and endowed with a wealth of practical experience to help them meet their own goals.

All graduates must complete the following:

Senior Year Project-students will receive one credit toward their diploma by completing and presenting a project revolving around community activism.  This project will be highly individualized, and is meant to allow student to connect with their own community, and advocate for something they think is important.

W.A.C.U.P. (Willingness to Achieve, Communicate, Understand & Participate)- Students will receive one credit toward graduation for participating in W.A.C.U.P meetings. They are instructor facilitated, student-driven forums designed to  be a place where student voices and concerns can be heard. Research has shown that students have identified such forums as a very helpful part of the program that “takes off the pressure and stress of everyday school” and serves to “facilitate communication among fellow students and teachers.”

Workplace Experience– One credit toward graduation will come from the completion of 200 hours of workplace experience.

Learning Modules

The school offers coursework that is flexible enough to accommodate student interest and fulfill Maine State Requirements for graduation from high school.

Within the context of minimum required courses as established by the laws of the State of Maine, the school offers a variety of modules that can be fit together to fulfill graduation requirements in the major content areas of Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, Life/Physical Sciences (including a lab), History, Visual & Performing Arts, Health & Physical Education, Maine Studies and Computer Skills.


Student assessment involves both teacher and student input into the content areas as well as specific concept areas.

Content evaluation focuses on the student’s academic performance and allows for both teacher and student evaluation of performance.

Concept evaluation measures personal growth in terms of: Self-esteem, Leadership, Inter-personal relations,Resourcefulness and Participation (S.L.I.R.P.).

The mechanics of this approach are very simple and direct. Curriculum is driven by students and teachers alike. Evaluation in the content areas takes the form of a teacher/student agreement with very clear expectations and consequences for both parties. The teacher has the ultimate responsibility of deciding whether or not the student has met the agreed-upon expectations for the course performance.

Additionally, attention is given to peer evaluation in group activities. The focus is on the process as much as the result. Creativity, research, cooperative learning, information management and a final presentation serve to highlight the quality of the work each student is doing. All students get an opportunity to see some quality work, and standards are implied if not stated.  The teacher evaluates the planning process and the student evaluates the quality of his/her work, reflects upon the experience and negotiates for a final grade or pass/fail with the teacher.

The staff also assesses student performance on the basis of portfolio contributions in addition to the present methods being used. It is the philosophy of the school that such an approach offers students a very valuable exercise that serves to instill creativity through contribution to a representative document. It shows growth and a variety of experience and will be a representation of progress as a result of their school experience.

Periodical progress reports will cite specific and relevant examples of academic progress and student behavior to demonstrate to students where their successes are and, when necessary, suggest areas where change is needed. It will not become part of the student’s permanent record as it is primarily used as a tool for discussion.  The time and energy necessary for staff to complete these evaluations will allow each student a regular reference point for insight into their own behavior, performance and progress that goes beyond standard report card formats.

Alternative Credit Options

The program, in keeping with its philosophy that the student’s individual educational needs will be considered, provides various methods for earning high school credit that include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following options:

Independent Study Options: are available for a good majority of credit options—students will either work with their instructor in the development of a research-based Special Topic course in any of the CORE subjects, or may work along-side an instructor-designed syllabus to complete a portfolio of projects that meet school requirements for the subject being worked on.

Cyber-School Options: are available for earning credit, upon teacher approval & assignment.

Aspiration Courses: Select students may participate in adult education & college classes at the discretion of their instructor and approval of participating partner.

Text-Book Options: are available upon request, and individual plans/course syllabi will be made with instructor.

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