Meet our Staff

Chris McCarthy, Principal of the REAL School. 

Restorative Learning Program

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Page Nichols is the Restorative Learning Specialist and has worked at The REAL School since 2009 in a number of capacities. In her current position, Page coordinates with students, teachers, counselors, and parents to provide educational, restorative consequences for inappropriate school behavior. In place of a traditional, punitive approach to school discipline, The REAL School believes that children will ultimately be more successful when they learn to take responsibly for their own actions, recognize their impact on the community, and find creative ways of repairing whatever harm was done. In addition to her role as Restorative Learning Specialist, Page spends many volunteer hours supporting students in juvenile detention. She serves on the board of directors for a local non-profit that offers alternatives to detention for youth offenders and facilitates a support program for very young parents that she designed and implemented as part of the mission of the organization. She also co-chairs the RSU 14 Dropout Prevention Committee and serves on the Training and Education sub-committee for the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group of Maine. Page presents as local and national conferences on restorative discipline, student engagement, behavior management and adolescent brain development. In 2011, Page won the Maine Commissioners Award for making a significant contribution to meeting the needs of at-risk children in their communities. Page loves her job at The REAL School because of the awesome kids and brilliant, deeply committed staff! In her free time, she likes to go on outdoor adventures, swim in the ocean and find new, cool opportunities for her students.

Our Treatment Team

IMG_3094Bear Shea, LCSW, is the Director of Clinical Services at the REAL School and heads up the multi-disciplinary Treatment Team. He brings over 15 years of experience working with youth in both traditional and alternative settings. As a clinician, Bear has a focus in working with young adults who have emotional and behavioral barriers and has extensive training in many supportive interventions including Trauma and Strengths based perspectives, CBT, Somatic, TF-CBT, MATCH, Motivational Interviewing and De-escalation. Bear continues to provide clinical supervision as a UNE and USM field supervisor as well as to clinicians in the greater social work community. Bear loves being a part of the amazing support team at the REAL School as it provides a safe and respectful place for students to explore their roles as individuals, students and community members. When not engaged in the REAL School Sailing program, Bear enjoys reading, spending time with his friends and family and playing any and every type of game.


Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 11.47.18 AMSusan Burns Chong, LCSW,  joined the REAL School in 2012. She brings 20 years of extensive experience working with students and their families in multiple systems–juvenile justice, child welfare, and mental health. She has served as a teacher, community organizer, kayak instructor, and group facilitator, and she has recently published two teen-focused books–one about community gardening, and the other about innovation at school and work. Susan graduated from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, with her Master of Social Work. She loves working at the REAL School because of the laughter, tears, and learning that she shares with students and their families. When she is not on the island, she enjoys spending time with her own family, camping, gardening, swimming, reading poetry, and traveling.


Instructional Staff:

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 1.46.44 PMTed Gill first began working with the REAL School as an AmeriCorps volunteer in 2012. After a year of working through the national service organization, he joined the REAL School staff as a Special Education teacher in the Academy program. He attended the University of Maine at Farmington and graduated with a BA in Secondary English Education in 2011. His passions and interests include literature, films, all kinds of music, and working with the young people who will be the future leaders and citizens of our country. While not at work, he spends his time at his home in Portland playing video games, enjoying delicious food, and recording and producing both electronic music and guitar.

Sara Nichols joined the REAL school January 2017. She joins us with 20 years experience working with Maine’s youth in multiple capacities. Her journey began as a full time substitute teacher, coach, respite worker, continuing 12 more years as a support staff in Special Education at Greely Middle School and 5th grade teacher at Martel Elementary. Sara has completed a Masters in Education from USM and holds a Maine State Certification K-8 Special and General Education. Sara successfully strives to connect classroom academics with everyday science, math and literature that surround us. Every year presents an opportunity to develop new ideas to engage our students. Sara enjoys collaborating with co-workers and the community in order to create her experiential and differentiated classroom to support student success.

Mike Davis joined the REAL School the fall of 2017.  Before his arrival he completed his Bachelor’s of Science in Econ/Finance from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri and his Master’s of Arts and Teaching as a business educator with a minor emphasis in Special Education from the University of Missouri State in Springfield, Missouri.  After his first year of teaching both business and various special education classes at Joplin High School, he found his passion to be much greater while helping students with special needs and committed fully to Special Education.  In 2013, Mike, his wife, and two dogs relocated to Maine and absolutely love everything it has to offer.  The picturesque geography feeds his passion for photography, while the countless trails and scenic courses supply ample mileage for his need to run. Mike added to his teaching career at Old Orchard Beach high school teaching math and sciences to students with special needs and coached cross country, basketball, and track. After nearly a decade of teaching Special Education in the traditional setting, Mike is thoroughly enthusiastic about the REAL School’s mission and everything it offers to students, families and the community it serves. 

REAL BIOJeremy Floyd joined the REAL School the fall of 2015.  Before his arrival he completed his M.ED. as a Professional School Counselor from the Citadel Graduate College in Charleston, South Carolina.  He recently returned to Maine after living in South Carolina for 7 years.  Before that, he was a special education teacher at Loranger Middle School in Old Orchard Beach, where he also coached middle school basketball and track.  His undergraduate degree in Special Education was completed at the University of Maine at Farmington in 2005.  Jeremy loves everything about his position at the REAL School and would do anything to help students reach their full potential.  Jeremy is passionate about about education in all of its forms.  He loves being outdoors, whether on a bike or on the water and always enjoys a good video game session with family and friends.





Mike Davis

Melissa Gallison Melissa is looking forward to starting her second year working with the amazing students and staff at REAL school. Currently an Ed Tech III, she brings with her 26 years of social-service experience working with Maine families, community members and medical and mental health agencies throughout the Mid Coast Maine area. Melissa has her Associate’s degree in Business and Healthcare Management and her MHRT-C to further support those struggling with mental health issues. She also enjoys volunteering her time to support the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program in the Brunswick area and has networked with local community members and businesses to build community inclusive relationships to foster independence. Melissa realizes the importance of self-care and has many hobbies such as sculpting, disc golf, hiking and yoga. In her free time during the summer you are likely to find her tending to her gardens or lying on a beach.  Melissa is excited about all the changes occurring at REAL this year and has much enthusiasm to share with the students to help support them with skill development and in achieving their academic and life goals. 

Sadie Russell is excited to return to the REAL School as an Ed Tech for her second year. Her early passion for education and social work stemmed from volunteering as a mentor with Seeds of Independence in the Jumpstart program in 2011. Sadie discovered a knack for mentoring and assisted in the implementation of Navigate, a mentor program for at-risk youth at Freeport High School addressing school climate and peer support to increase attendance and graduation rates. During the fall semester of her senior undergraduate year, Sadie interned at a residential program in Antwerp for young girls from impoverished, marginalized communities. She provided consistent care and routine with activities of daily living-  such as attending appointments, homework assistance, and cooking meals. Furthermore, she gained insight in pedagogical education as well as cultural values to create a foundation for parent/child reunification to occur. Sadie facilitated family visits and initiated activities to develop stronger family relations between the residential home and families. Through play and outdoor exploration, Sadie learned how to understand the needs of the young girls using a positive, nurturing approach. Sadie’s educational experience continued at the Veazie Community School as an assistant to the guidance counselor. She participated in 1:1 counseling sessions, group meetings and taught guidance lessons. This opportunity motivated her to learn about diversity, encourage student achievement and create a space of acceptance. In 2016, she graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. In her free time, Sadie enjoys outdoor adventures with her dog and spending time with family and friends. She is thrilled to be a part of the REAL School community because of the amazing students it serves and the positivity and support from staff.


AmandaAmanda Kierman will come on as a new REAL School staff member for the 2016 school year. She has worked with youth for over 10 years in varying capacities. Throughout her undergraduate years at Clark University, Amanda spent much of her time in Worcester public schools with children ranging from grades one through twelve. Her roles have included serving as a classroom aid at the elementary level, leading high school level discussions aimed at promoting acceptance and non-violence, working one-one-one with all age groups, and eventually working in administrative support roles. In 2015 Amanda graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Sociology and a concentration in Race and Ethnic Relations. From there she went on to serve a yearlong term as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Brunswick School Department where she did community outreach, sat on a range of committees, and helped maximize the district’s capacity for meeting the needs of the most underserved families in the area. . In her free time she enjoys being surrounded by friends, family, and food, getting in the woods as often as she can, deepening her understanding of individuals at a one-on-one level, and growing her love for music through sharing and shows. She’s beyond excited to begin working with the wonderful staff and students at The REAL School!”


Carrie Ryba: Carrie joined REAL as an Ed Tech in January 2017. She holds a BFA in Art Ed, and is currently working towards an MA in Counseling, specializing in clinical mental health. Carrie has spent the majority of her time working for non-profits that focus on educating and supporting families in disadvantaged situations, such as state-run foster homes and the local YWCA, in her home state of Massachusetts. After moving to Maine in 2004, she worked as a program coordinator for Girls Inc, an organization that empowers women and girls, through outreach. After spending some time at home with her two children, Carrie became certified as a children’s yoga instructor, and began offering yoga classes to children and families in the greater Portland area. She has worked with dozens of schools, and both private and public organizations. Before starting at REAL she was a literacy tutor for kids with learning disabilities at a special education school in Cape Elizabeth. She feels at home in nature, and loves to trail run for exercise as well as peace of mind. Hiking, yoga, and exploring with her two kids are favorite past times, not to mention being creative in any possible setting or capacity. Carrie’s favorite thing about working at REAL is being able to work alongside the most dedicated, compassionate, and driven team, allowing her to offer the best abilities she has to her students. The culture perpetuated at REAL fosters deep admiration, acceptance, and care for one another—truly a gem!

Scott Fournier

Scott Fournier was first introduced to the REAL School community as an AmeriCorps volunteer in 2014. He enjoys working with students in many different capacities whether working off-campus, teaching math (his favorite!), restorative learning, or adventure-based programming. Scott likes to approach education as a process of connecting with students through exploration and learning side-by-side. He has a B.A. from Loyola University in Maryland and expects to finish his M.Ed. in Special Education this Fall. When he’s not working, Scott likes to go on rock climbing and surfing adventures.   


Adam Ward



Adam Ward comes to REAL School with a strong background in outdoor education and adventure-based learning. He loves being outside and enjoys taking students on adventures like snowboarding, surfing, and mountain biking. Adam also enjoys creating hands-on projects where students use tools to create, build, and learn together. Adam comes to us with a Bachelor’s in English from Valdosta State University and he is currently working toward a Master’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Outdoor Education from the University of New Hampshire. Adam works as a Registered Maine Sea Kayak Guide in the summertime. He enjoys being out on the water and sharing great experiences with others. 


Melissa Cleaves


Melissa Cleaves first joined The REAL School in 2012 as an AmeriCorps volunteer and served in that capacity for three years before realizing her dream job and joining the staff as an Ed Tech III in 2015.  Melissa’s prior experience includes seven years as a job coach for adults with developmental disabilities and seven years as a co-facilitator for support groups for children experiencing grief, as well as the delights and challenges of raising her own two teenagers.  Melissa has a degree in Philosophy from Wheaton College and has completed some graduate work in education with a focus on at-risk populations.  In her spare time, Melissa enjoys live music, gardening, and the ocean.