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Maine Central Institute

Maine Central Institute, founded in 1866 as a preparatory school for Bates College, is one of Pittsfield's most unique and well-known assets. MCI is one of the "Big 10" private secondary schools in Maine that still serves the public school population as well. The school is located on a 23-acre campus and conducts its programs within fourteen buildings. Of these, 4 are academic, 3 are residential dormitories, 3 are houses, and 2 are gymnasiums. One of the academic buildings, Founders Hall, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and provides a stately and proud center for the campus, situated behind an attractive green facing South Main Street.

MCI has always had a boarding population, with a high of 240 residential students in the 1960's. At that time and until the early 1990's, most boarders were post-graduate athletes preparing for college. During much of the school's history, it has served as the public high school.

Boarding students are matched with a local host family, and warm and lasting relationships have been forged through these opportunities. In addition to the SAD#53 and boarding students, fourteen private tuition day students attended MCI during 1996-97.

The school  went through a major re-evaluation of its mission and priorities beginning with a 30-person retreat in March on 1994. Board members, teachers and administrators were all involved and the school's operating principle is to reach decisions by consensus. A strategic plan emerged from this assessment. Specifically, six policy priorities were identified at this retreat and a task force was established for each one:

  • Financial stability
  • Math/science/technology integration
  • Professional development of employees
  • Boarding/day programs alignment
  • Building and facility update
  • Curriculum and program quality assessment

With reaffirmation of the institute's mission "to offer a superior educational opportunity to all students," the school has been evaluating its activities and holdings to determine whether they contribute to or distract from the main mission.

The multi-cultural exposure is of great value to the public school students, most of whom are not afforded the opportunity to travel and meet people from other countries or parts of the U.S. The exposure to diversity and experience of walking between buildings on a campus give MCI students a better preparation for going away to college than typical high school students have.

The school's addition of a special Personalized Learning Program, tailored to students who have minor cognitive learning disabilities but do not qualify for special education at public expense, is being marketed to students with that need, both domestically and abroad. An additional charge is levied for use of this program.

It is generally felt that MCI offers a better high school education than most of the surrounding public schools. Aside from the unique campus and multi-cultural environment, the school seeks to offer a wide array of extra-curricular activities and a good deal of individual attention. While public schools have a student-teacher ratio of 100-120:1, MCI's is 80:1. The average class size is 15 students and each teacher is responsible for six class sections. There are 14 Varsity sports and over 30 clubs and activities in which students may participate.

MCI markets use of its campus during the Summer.   MCI is the home for the Bossov Ballet Theatre, especially its summer ballet camp. Shorter rentals have included the Maine Principal's Academy, involving 30 participants for one week during July, and the North American Soccer Camp, hosting 80-100 youngsters during the first week of August.


Christopher M. McDonald, Head of School


Tel: (207) 487-3355 ext. 105