For Meredith Collins, public education was not very interesting.

Growing up in rural Maine, she was bored with school. To amuse herself, she made up lab reports. The only class she enjoyed was Latin, because her teacher was enthusiastic.

Most of the time, she found that education was like a prepackaged product.

"You're handed something, and if it's not what you want or what you need, you're out of luck," Miss Collins said.

"I've been a student for almost 100 per cent of my life. I've been out of school a year now, and I've found that I've rediscovered the curiosity I had. I've found teachers … not people who are paid to teach, but people who want to share their interests."

Miss Collins is one of four people who traveled to the Vineyard this week, from their various states across the region, to become teachers at the new Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School. They join two Island residents who will also be charter school teachers.

The approaching school term is the inaugural year for the Island's charter school -- a learning center designed by a handful of community members, chartered by the governor and funded by the state.

The Island's charter school will feature alternative approaches to education.

For example, students will not receive grades. Instead, their progress will be continually reviewed and they will compile portfolios. Students of different ages will work together, and students will help design their own education. The school will be structured so it can accommodate the needs of individual students and their families.

And this process is just beginning. Teachers met with students and their families for the first time last night at a pot-luck dinner at the agricultural hall in West Tisbury. At this dinner, board members officially passed the charter to the new teachers. Teachers presented each student with a stone from the construction site.

Physical progress is also being made. At the charter school campus on State Road near the upper entrance to Indian Hill Road, workers are busy constructing the school in the middle of a wooded area. The school building will consist of an office and bathrooms. Classes will be conducted in portable buildings. The entire complex should be complete in the second week in August.

Said Charlotte Costa, who has spent the last three years working to establish the school, "Everything's happening on a minute-to-minute basis -- for the first time."

And now that teachers are here, things will happen even more quickly.

Teachers will spend time with families through the summer, especially in the week preceding the first day of school, which is Sept. 16.

What happens during the school year will depend upon this kind of interaction.

"It makes it a lot more intriguing," said teacher David Hartnett. "Most schools have a strategy in place before day one."

Mr. Hartnett, who has taught and worked as an administrator in Vermont public schools, was immediately attracted to the Island's charter school.

In Vermont, the school systems are known for innovative approaches to education, he said. But new approaches there are often only superficial changes, he said. Mr. Hartnett saw the charter school's ad for teachers when he was visiting the area this winter.

"When I saw the ad in the Boston Globe, the description came as close to saying 'Give a call' as any I've ever seen," he said. "When I received the charter I was glad I did so. There was a great deal of care and thought … and it was deeply embedded with current research on how students learn. It had every appearance of walking the walk as well as talking the talk."

The ad also appealed to Peggy Hughes of Middletown, R.I.

As a parent, she has sometimes felt as though she'd like to be more involved in her daughters' education. And as an educator in schools and museums, she has seen how children and their parents can learn together. She was attracted to the charter school because it would allow this.

"At this school, with its open door policy, I know I'm going to be telling parents, if we're going to learn paper-making or something, come on in and learn paper-making if you've never done it," she said.

Her new colleagues include Susan DiRubio of Cataumet, who is experienced in special education and who has worked at the Penikese Island School and at the Cape Cod Academy.

Sidney Morris of Chappaquiddick, a founding member of the charter school, is leaving his job as technology coordinator of the Oak Bluffs School to become a charter school teacher.

And Jean Lythcott of Tisbury, who is president of the charter school board of trustees, comes with an extensive background as a math and science teacher in schools in the states and abroad.

As teachers prepare for this first school year, the fund-raising group, Options in Education, is trying to raise $400,000 to pay for start-up costs. State funding pays only for operation of the school.

So far, the group has raised $57,000 and is trying to match a challenge from an Island family. The family has pledged to give $40,000 if the group can raise $80,000.

Mrs. Costa  is hopeful that the goal can be met. She also looks forward to opening the completed school building to the public. An open house will be scheduled soon.

"We want to be part of the community," she said.

Mrs. Lythcott added that the charter school is a public school, just like any other school on the Island.

"The distinction that's important for people to understand," she said, "is that charter schools, with all of their new accountabilities and new freedoms are in fact public education, accessible to every student."

Miss Collins agreed.

Miss Collins, who came here from Newtown, Pa., where she taught in a private Quaker school, said that charter schools should not be viewed as a threat to public education.

"I really have a strong feeling that public education is an important thing, and charter schools can really do a lot of things for public education," she said.

And maybe do a lot for education in general.

That's what Susan DiRubio hopes. After having taught in both public and private schools, she has formed her own philosophy of education. Now, she's excited about being in an environment with other people who share her philosophies.

"I was starting to think it wasn't out there," she said.