READFIELD — The old Readfield Grange Hall on Church Road is getting a new life.

The two-story hall, built in 1876, is being renovated as the new home for Maple Tree Community School, a 3-year-old private school serving children in grades K-8.

Nicole Danielson, director and founder of the school, said the Grange hall’s historic nature and its size make it perfect for a multi-age school.

Since 2011, Maple Tree had been renting space in Manchester. She said the Readfield location is more central for the school’s current enrollment of 16 students because some of them come from as far away as Mount Vernon.

“The Grange is this wonderful space where we can have a science lab, an art room, a library, a dining room, large and small classrooms and a really nice performing arts space,” said Danielson. “We have a larger building in a really nice historic space.”

The school bought the Grange hall from the Golden Girls and Guys Club, which had bought it from the Grange last October. Renovations began in earnest this summer. Maple Tree’s first day of school is Sept. 8. Some construction still will be taking place during September.

The interior of the building features hardwood floors and wooden columns between the first and second floors. A smooth hardwood dance floor graces the second floor and the walls are wood-paneled. There is a piano, and many old wooden chairs can be used to seat an audience for a performance on the stage, which has a working curtain.

“It’s been beautifully maintained,” Danielson said.

The school is installing new wiring, plumbing and heating systems as well as insulating the building.

“We’re in a building whose purpose was to create a strong sense of community,” Danielson said. “We plan to interact with seniors in the community. We’ll visit area cemeteries and try to connect with the past. We’re hoping to gather stories and pictures from people who have memories of the Grange.”

Danielson had teaching experience in both public and private elementary schools. She has two children — a son who’s completed eighth grade at Maple Tree and now will move on to Kents Hill School and a daughter who’s starting fourth grade at Maple Tree.

The school has two teacher assistants, Christine Little and Chris Hall, and a French teacher, Karen Foust. Danielson is a full-time teacher as well as the school’s administrator.

The school is registered with the state and must comply with state laws on school hours, teacher certification and health and safety.

Danielson said she started Maple Tree Community School because she was disappointed in public schools’ reliance on work sheets and their emphasis on testing. She saw education as something more exciting and vital than that.

“I founded this because I was frustrated with the current structure of public schools today,” she said. “I wanted to see less emphasis on testing and more on learning, less emphasis on memorization of facts and more on opportunities for critical learning and thinking.”

The fact that the enrollment places students of different ages together means that they are “learning and growing together,” Danielson said.

“Students are not defined or limited by their grade level, but are encouraged to reach for their potential,” she said.

One day a week the school is devoted to studying one topic in an “immersion day,” often followed by a field trip. Danielson said students spent a couple of days studying engineering at the school last year. Then they took a tour for a closer look at Maine bridges guided by an engineer from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Parents of students are encouraged to come in and share their area of expertise with students.

“Children say all the time they enjoy coming to school. It’s a happy place to come and learn,” she said. “Kids get a lot of individual attention. It really motivates kids to learn and grow.”

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