Since its humble beginnings, The Landing School has been a transformative place for boatbuilders, designers, and marine industry technicians alike. Although the curriculum, enrollment, campus buildings, and extracurricular activities have all grown since the school was launched in a cow barn in 1978, the goal of preparing men and women for fulfilling careers in the marine industry has remained the same.


The Landing School in 1978 using the wooden boat classroom in the cow barn.

The Landing School coined its name from “The Landing,” an area on the Kennebunk River in Arundel, Maine where nearly a dozen shipyards were in operation dating as far back as the 1600’s. This inland location, just two miles from the Maine coast, was attractive to boat builders because it was close to the local timber supply and protected from harsh coastal weather conditions. After the economic effects of the Great Depression descended over the country in the 1930’s, shipbuilders working in the area were struggling, and this downward spiral continued until the last official launching at The Landing was logged as a police cruiser in 1942.

Decades later, in 1978, John Burgess and Cricket Tupper founded The Landing School with hopes of reviving the boat building trade within the community. The first year, nine students from diverse backgrounds, and with various skill sets, worked together to complete two dories and two 18-foot sailboats. Nine years later, The Landing School went on to become the first post-secondary school of its type to be accredited by The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Landing School student, Callan Singer, working on the Town Class boat.

Today, The Landing School offers four diploma programs in Wooden Boat Building, Marine Systems, Yacht Design and Composite Boat Building. By completing two programs and some additional general education courses, students can earn an Associates Degree in Marine Industry Technology. For students wishing to take another step in their education, the School has partnerships with Maine Maritime Academy, Southampton Solent University in the United Kingdom, and Southern New Hampshire University. A special feature of the school’s culture is the way it attracts adult learners of all ages and walks of life, including those directly out of high school, to college transfer students, to veterans, to second career seekers, to gap year students and retirees.

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