Leadership and the Legacy of Marion Kane

by | Apr 29, 2024 | News

This spring, sixth grade students in the Marion Kane Leadership program will be among the first people to use the new pole-based challenge course on the Mission’s Downeast campus. The leadership program has helped students in middle school learn leadership skills since 2012. But who exactly is Marion Kane and how did this Mission program become named for her? 

The EdGE program began in 2002, with Downeast educators and stakeholders starting to lay the groundwork for the program in the preceding years. One of the people who played a critical role during the creation and development of the program was Marion Kane.  

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Marion knew the Downeast area well through her time living in the area and as the President of Maine Community Foundation. In 2000, she became the director of the Barr Foundation which supports education initiatives in New England. Marion invited EdGE Director Charlie Harrington to see different afterschool programs that collaborated with the Foundation. Other examples provided ideas he could integrate into EdGE 

10 years later, the Mission came up with new ways to connect with older students who might not attend afterschool programming. This new program would build on the foundation EdGE built. The program would be a safe space where students could learn and explore. It would also be a place where students would think critically about challenging topics and work on skills like communication and trust. The skills they learned during this time would help them in their transition into middle school and into their teen years. In its beginning phase Marion passed away, and Mission leadership named the fledgling program after her to recognize her impact on  EdGE.  

The Marion Kane Leadership program has evolved over the years, but its goals remain the same. Students still spend time on the challenge course to learn trust and how to support each other. They also test their abilities, push their boundaries, celebrate their successes, and help each other reach their goals. “It is extremely rewarding to watch students build trust in themselves and in their peers. Some students come to the day with no intention of climbing on the challenge course, but throughout the day they take small steps outside their comfort zone, says EdGE Youth Development Coordinator Wren Wakeman. “The smile on their face when they achieve a goal they did not think was possible is priceless.” 

Students in the program also spend time in the classroom. This section, called “Exploration lets students get to know themselves and their peers better through structured activities. There is a focus on creating safe and meaningful conversations surrounding topics such as comfort zones, learning about each person’s individual passion or spark, and discovering how each person’s unique perspective is necessary to complete certain activities.  

Now, more than two decades after the founding of EdGE and a decade after the founding of the Marion Kane Leadership program, Marion’s legacy is still influencing students and hopefully creating leaders who will have a lasting impact in Downeast Maine for years to come.  

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