Debra Lay, left, and Michelle Finn are two of the three new members of the board of directors at Island Readers & Writers. PHOTO COURTESY OF IRW

IRW brings three new directors onboard

MOUNT DESERT — Michelle Finn of Cherryfield, Debra Lay of Jonesport and Marjorie Withers of Cooper were elected to the board of directors of Island Readers & Writers (IRW) earlier this fall.

Finn is a teacher at Cherryfield Elementary School and has served as director of content and services for the Re-inventing Schools Coalition, an educational foundation focusing on student-centered and performance-based learning. Finn has taught in the Bering Strait School District in Alaska and, for four years, Finn and her husband, Doug, taught in the one-room school in Frenchboro on Long Island.

Lay is the principal at Jonesport Elementary School. She served as an elementary teacher in Massachusetts public schools for 11 years and in administrative leadership positions for 10. Since 2010, she has taught masters-level graduate students. She also leads 24 instructors as core faculty.

Withers is the co-founder and former executive director of the Community Caring Collaborative, a 40 agency collaborative in Indian Township and Washington County. Withers has dedicated much of her life to reducing the impact of the health disparities of rural poverty, mental illness, substance abuse and trauma through working with infants and young children and their families. She has worked as a therapist, consultant and program designer for over 30 years in Maine. She serves on the board of advisors for the University of Maine at Machias.

“These women are uniquely qualified to join this board, having years of experience in education and community-building and a passion for improving the lives of Maine’s children through books and literature-based school programs,” said Jan Coates, IRW executive director and board member.

Headquartered on Mount Desert Island, IRW’s mission is to inspire a passion for reading and learning among children living on Maine’s coastal islands and remote communities in Washington County. Visit

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