First 10: Schools and Communities in Maine


(Education Development Center, 2020)


Check out Maine's State and Local Initiatives to Improve Outcomes for Children 

Report by David Jacobson

Find a First 10 School or Community in Maine!

What is a First 10 School and Community? 

First 10 Schools and Communities are “partnerships of school districts, elementary schools, early childhood programs, and community partners that come together to work on improving teaching, learning, and care for young children and their families” (Jacobson, 2019).  These schools and community partners attend to whole child / whole student development by providing consistent quality of services to all children and families, aligning resources and supports across the first 10 years of children’s lives, and fostering smooth transitions at each stage of development. Families are essential partners in First 10 Schools and Communities, collaborating to nurture children’s development and well-being.  (Founded by David Jacobson at the Education Development Center (EDC).  See for additional information)

Why are First 10 Schools and Communities important? 

During the First 10 years of life, the development of a child’s brain architecture provides the lifelong foundation to all future learning, behavior, and health.  “The early years are the most active period for establishing neural connections, but new connections can form throughout life and unused connections continue to be pruned” (Harvard University, 2019).  Brain development builds over time, starting prenatally and continuing throughout childhood.  Children’s relationships and environments play a major role in the overall development of their brain architecture.  “Experiences that are individualized to the child’s unique personality style; that build on his or her own interests, capabilities, and initiative; and that shape the child’s self-awareness” (Harvard University, 2019) are essential to overall development.     

What components are critical to First 10 Schools and Communities?  

When forming and implementing First 10 Schools and Communities, several components are critical to the design:  

  • Collaboration to Improve Teaching & Learning,  

  • Culturally Responsive Partnerships,  

  • Strategic Leadership, and  

  • Well-Coordinated & Comprehensive Services.  

Thoughtfully implemented, these components support whole child/whole student development across domains during the early childhood and elementary years as children progress toward fifth grade. These components also work in a coordinated fashion to ensure that families, schools, and community services (such as childcare, health care, parent education, etc.) achieve the fullest potential of their efforts.