Meet our Staff

Martin Mackey, Principal of the REAL School.  

bio pictureMartin Mackey, MS, Special Ed., is the Director of the REAL School. He has worked with at risk students for over 18 years both in public schools, and private wilderness therapy programs in the western U.S. He has been instrumental in the development and growth of multiple educational programs. Martin has provided professional development to a wide variety of educators, policy makers, and is always eager to collaborate with others to initiate positive change for Maine’s most fragile students. He is currently the President of the Maine Association of Alternative Education. In 2013, Martin organized a state-wide Human Centered Design summit on alternative assessment practices in Maine. Martin holds a Master’s degree in Special Education, CAGS in Educational Leadership and a Maine Department of Education Certification as a K-12 Special Education Teacher and Principal.

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.

Restorative Learning Program

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Page Nichols is the Restorative Learning Specialist and has worked at The REAL School for six years 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.


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.

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!”

Evan_StaffPic (1)Evan Kumagae (pronounced “cool man guy”)  is super pumped to be returning for his fourth year at the REAL School.  Evan is the WD-40 of the school, and you’ll find him working with students to make our school a better place.  You might see him going on trips or working 1 on 1 with students, helping out in the kitchen, or jump starting a van.  Evanhas a M.S. Ed. and many years of experience working with teens in outdoor, after school, and school settings.  But, he most wants you to know that he cares deeply about each and every one of you.  Nothing makes him more happy than seeing students succeed and apply their talents in positive ways.  When he is not working, Evan spends his time climbing rocks, chasing after his three dogs, and exploring Maine with his wife.”

Coreen Drown is new to the REAL school.  Coreen grew up in southern Maine and recently moved back to Maine from Bozeman, Montana.  Coreen received her Bachelor’s Degree from Montana State University in Family and Consumer Science.  She discovered her love of Special Education and working with at risk families while working for the Bozeman Alternative High School in their Teen Parent and Child Care program.  She has also worked with children in while teaching skiing at a ski resort in Big Sky Montana.  Since moving back to Maine, Coreen has been enjoying her family, camping, hiking and the beach.  Coreen is excited to see what the REAL School has to offer!   

Carrie Ryba, BFA in Art Education, currently working on an MA in Counseling. I love to be creative in many forms, make things, sing (as much as my kids will let me), be in nature, hike, run, dance, practice yoga, as well as simpler, more genuine, ways of doing and being. My favorite thing about working at REAL is being able to work alongside the most compassionate and driven team,  allowing me to reciprocate what our students give to me- knowledge, connection, acceptance, understanding, and deep admiration and care for one another.