New Skowhegan school breaks down barriers

Letter to the Editor published in the Morning Sentinel on September 3, 2023

New Skowhegan school breaks down barriers

The recent groundbreaking ceremony of the New Margaret Chase Smith Community School in Skowhegan is a momentous step in breaking down barriers to early childhood education and childcare.

We are living in challenging times. This is especially true for rural Maine communities. As pastor at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Skowhegan, I encounter vulnerable families each week seeking essentials such as clothing, food, and personal care items. Through our conversations, I learn about their struggles with housing and food insecurity. Parents trying to enter or reenter the workforce describe the barriers they face when seeking safe, dependable, affordable childcare. Without quality childcare, parents can’t succeed in providing financial security for their families. These factors put incredible stress on both parent and child which in turn, affects interpersonal relationships, learning, and a sense of place within the local community.  It is a vicious cycle that fosters chaos, isolation, and a sense of hopelessness.

I believe we are addressing these needs of our rural families with the development of the new Margaret Chase Smith Community School and Early Childhood Learning Center in Skowhegan. Serving on the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program Board of Directors has provided me with a deeper understanding of the overall mission and vision of Educare Central Maine. It is a comprehensive plan to provide quality services to both children and their parents. Developing highly skilled staff promotes Educare as an influential model reaching Beyond the Walls, such as supporting Skowhegan’s new birth-grade 5 school design. I recently read that people who build community are people who change the world. The new Margaret Chase Smith Community School and Early Childhood Learning Center partnership in Skowhegan will provide the kind of hope-filled environment that nurtures and develops our children into contributing leaders of tomorrow.

I am proud to be part of the community that is breaking barriers and creating transformative change.  I invite you to learn more and to consider joining me in supporting this important initiative.  You can learn more at


Jennifer Reed
KVCAP Board Member