Passages Press – Graduation 2017 Part 2

Posted on Friday June 30, 2017

This year we graduated 19 Passages Students from across the state of Maine! The Passages Press provides an excerpt from each student describing their experience at Wayfinder Schools, and discussing their Passage project, a required final project of the student’s choosing. Congratulations to all of our graduates!

K. Guernsey

Katerina Guernsey
Warren

Passages has helped me get through a lot. I applied when I was pregnant after struggling and fighting with my public school to stay in. They didn’t help me or seem to care, but the Passages program greeted me with a warm smile and a piece of pie. I felt happy going into this program, though my situation kept me to myself during workshops.

At the end of my first year in Passages my teacher showed me so much compassion and helped me into a safe place in my life. After the struggles of court and loss, an old light slowly came back and this, my second and final year, I improved, made friends, and broke out of my shell. I never could have done that without Joy. At the end of this year Joy was on vacation, and returned to a bunch of texts and work from me from out of nowhere. She was surprised, but on board. We made it work and I’m graduating! I am so thankful and so happy for this program, the teachers, and friends I have due to this program. I am thankful for new experiences, ideas and the warmth that started with a piece of pie.

H. Newell

Hydee Newell
Pleasant Point

I’m finally done! Finished. I don’t know why it took me this long, but I’m pleased with the end result. With the support of my team I was encouraged the whole way. Thank you to everyone who joined my journey.

My Passage :Paint With Me

For my final Passage project I painted with my son’s second grade class after school in the gym. The whole class wasn’t able to attend, but I did get ten students and they loved it. A couple students asked when I would be back to paint again because they said they loved art. I would like to do this again in thefuture knowing that the students took great interest in my chosen project.

When I first decided to do something that involved children I was a little hesitant. Not all children are well behaved and I didn’t want to babysit rather than do what was planned, but I can say they surprised me. Each student had fun. They had some spare time before the bus arrived to take them home and they organized a game of ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ and played well together until it was time to leave.

The turnout was fantastic. I’m very pleased with my team. Everyone that showed up to support me was very much appreciated!

K. Pendleton

Kaitland Elizabeth Pendleton
Eastport

My experience in Passages has really been great. I love the teachers and how much they care. I love how they give you so many opportunities to learn new things by all the different workshops! Honestly, if it weren’t for Passages I don’t think I would have ever gotten my high school diploma. It’s great how the teachers come to your house, but if you need any extra help when they aren’t here, you can just message them and they will help as much as they can that way. All of the teachers are super supportive. They just want to see you succeed! If it weren’t for my teacher, Ann, pushing me and encouraging me to complete everything, I don’t think I would be graduating this year! So, I thank and appreciate her for that!

I promise you that once you graduate, you will have learned so much about yourself and you will do things you probably never would have pictured yourself doing before! This program really helped me to get out of my comfort zone, and do things that needed to be done!! I got my permit, shadowed at my dream school, the Empire Beauty School in Bangor, and put in my application to enroll there. I got my First Aid/CPR certificate, got to go to some really amazing workshops, set up my FAFSA, and of course now I will be getting my high school diploma. This has been an experience I will always remember, and be thankful for. Thank you Passages!

My Passage : Getting Ready for Cosmetology School

I’ve always been interested in doing hair, makeup, and nails, since I was in third grade. I’ve been dying my own hair since I was in grade school. In grade school and in high school whenever my sisters had friends over, I’d always ask them if they wanted me to do their hair and makeup. Of course they would always say yes! I really enjoy it. When I was in high school, I’d do girls’ eyebrows in the bathroom during lunch. I remember when I was in fifth grade my mom’s friend, Micki, said that that’s how she started and that she had a good feeling that I was going to be a cosmetologist too, because she saw a lot of her young self in me.

I have been exploring the Empire Beauty School in Bangor, Maine. I made an appoint- ment to tour the school. When we got there they were busy, and so they gave me a free manicure while I waited. That was cool.

After that they showed me what the school provides for supplies. In the kit was high-end makeup, hair tools, wigs, stuff that kills the germs from the hair tools, a tablet, and supplies for nails. The school has a really cool scholarship where they will give you $1,000 for your continuing education!

I spent the day shadowing at the Empire Beauty School in April. When I first got there I was told that I would be watching one of the girls on the floor and then spending time in the classroom. I watched her do someone’s hair. She gave her a trim and made her roots the same color as the hair that was dyed and then she got rid of her highlights and evened it out so it looked pretty much all the same, but with a little bit of a lighter brown towards the end. I was upset that I didn’t get to see what it looked like when it was completely done. Her hair was naturally really pretty and curly so I’m sure it came out awesome.

The classroom time was the most fun for me. They were testing, but I really loved the teacher. She made learning seem fun and she had a really awesome personality! She was singing and dancing around the classroom. It was a very chill atmosphere! For the test the students had to do one acrylic nail “perfectly.” – Well, up to the teacher’s standards! The girl I sat next to was really friendly, so it made the time there more enjoyable! I didn’t learn as much as I wanted too due to them testing, but I still had a great time. I can really picture myself going to school there!

L. Phinney

Lacee Edwina Phinney
Lubec

My name is Lacee Phinney. I am 26 with 4 boys and have been settled down since I was 18. I have ADHD and from a young age had a lot of problems in school and was medicated. I was told I would never get a high school diploma. In my Canadian school I made it to grade 12, but dropped out. I wasn’t going to get a diploma anyway – just a leaving certificate, and I partied more than I should have. I gave up on myself and I went to get my GED. I scored so low that it felt like it was not possible to get my GED.

Next I lost my CNA certificate, because of not having a high school diploma. I could not work with just my CNA. I felt hopeless and like I had no chance for a real diploma or a real life, but I have had a lot of jobs and have worked at the Cobscook Community Learning Center as a cleaning lady for almost 3 years. I really love it there.

I have been in Passages for 6 years. I started in 2011. It is an awesome program that helps a lot and is flexible with my everyday life. The teachers have worked hard with me the whole time. Passages was my only hope for a high school diploma. I was working through my drug addiction which began when I was 14 and having babies later in my early 20s plus working at full-time jobs and raising 4 boys. I love them with all my heart. Isaic, James, Ashton, and Aimsley. They push me to want to better myself.

Through all the good times and the bad times my school and my family and my teachers have been there for me and fought for me the whole time. I am blessed to be a part of Passages. I believe that this program does a lot of good for teens and young families. It did for me.

J. Riethmuller

Jacqueline Louise Riethmuller
Milford

My time in Passages has been an experience that probably lasted longer than it should have. I have been in the Program since March of 2015. My teacher through it all has been Erica Gates. She has definitely done her fair share of helping me get through earning my high school diploma. It has been a huge struggle to finally get to the end.

I started when I was pregnant with my daughter Aerial. Through the first year I thought that I was going to finish when I needed to, but with life getting in the way it took me a lot longer than I had planned. I also moved three different times within the first 8 months after having Aerial. When Aerial was just 8 months old, I found out that I was pregnant again. So that made me work harder until that baby got here.

My son was born in the end of June in 2016. Having two kids was definitely a struggle while trying to find time to do school work and balance life. I tried my hardest to find that right time of the day that I could get something done for school, but then life happened again. A big event happened and the father of my kids went to jail. With that I had to really figure out how to care for two kids on my own. Times were tough and I didn’t have a lot of space to think about school work, but once I did, I was right back to getting school work done.

Then a huge tragedy happened to me and my family. My son passed away, which has been the biggest struggle that I have ever had to deal with in my life. Learning to deal with that and keep moving forward has definitely not been easy. I think that the only reason I am graduating this year is because in the last couple of months all I could think about was that I was so close and there is no turning back now. I know that everyone, including my son, would have wanted me to this. So these past couple of weeks have just been pushing to finish for everyone including myself, because once my daughter gets to the point where she doesn’t want to go to school, I will be able to tell her that it’s easier to get it done now while she has the chance than it is to have to go back to it and try to finish later.

Passages has helped through this the whole process. If it wasn’t for Passages and my teacher, Erica, I would not be graduating. I probably would have never gotten to this point in my life that I can say even after having two kids I am going to be getting my high school diploma.

The Passages Program requires a final graduation project. For mine I chose to learn more about how to become a preschool/ daycare worker. I am learning what courses I have to take to get my certifications. For my final presentation I am going to have a handbook ready to be able to show potential parents. I also have a meal plan and a list of a couple activities that I could do with the kids. I am grateful for this project because if it wasn’t for Passages I might not have been able to know the steps I have to take to have my own daycare one day.

J. Smiley

Jade Lynn Smiley
Indian Township

While in Passages I accomplished a lot of things. The most important one is graduating. I’ve been in the Passages Program for three years. I definitely had my ups and downs, but pushed through to accomplish my goals.

My Passage: A Traditional Family Meal

For my final Passage project I chose to cook one of my family’s traditional meals and serve it to my Passage team at my house. Not only is this meal one of my family’s traditional meals, it is also one of the cultural meals that we might serve at a social or a small gathering. This a meal my family would cook to celebrate a successful hunt. After the moose is brought home we hang it, skin it and then let it hang for a few more days before we butcher it.

My sister has helped me find 3 different traditional recipes. We made: Tuhmasis (fried bread), potatoes, moose meat and deer meat, plus strawberries and Cool Whip for dessert.

My sister, Tia helped me prepare the meal for my Passage team. First we started off cooking the moose meat. We had to boil it 3 times and let the water evaporate each time. After the moose meat was done boiling, we put it in a frying pan with some seasonings and cooked it with the deer meat. Next, we peeled and diced the potatoes and onions. While Tia watched the moose meat cook, I made the dough for the fried bread. Once the dough was done, I heated the oil and started to cook each fried bread. Once that was done we smashed up some fresh strawberries and added a little bit of sugar. We used the strawberries for a dessert to have with the fried bread.

We served my guests their meal while I explained the recipes. Then I invited my guests to ask questions about the meal. I thought my Passage went very well. Everyone loved the food. I’m glad my Passage was a success. If it wasn’t a success or if someone didn’t like the food I would have felt bad.

I like cooking and this is the career path I have chosen. I am currently working on my certification for ServSafe and cooking at Wabanaki Take-Out. In the future I would like open my own restaurant.

B. Turner

Barbara Turner
Auburn

Hello, my name is Barbara Turner and I have been in Passages Program since 2012. I became a young mother at 15 years old. I had my first born in June of 2010. In 2011, I became a single mother and also a victim of abuse. That was when all my problems started . . . never thought I was good enough and didn’t care about my life or how I was going to live it. I started getting really bad anxiety. I dropped out of high school going into 10th grade. I did try to go back and it worked for a couple months, but I dropped out again. Then I went back and finished 11th grade and started 12th grade. That is when I found out I was pregnant with my second child at age 17. I knew that I couldn’t do it anymore.

I remembered, while living in the group home, hearing about a program for mothers and fathers like myself called Passages, and decided that I would give them a call. That’s when I met Stephanie. She was there through thick and thin with me. When I needed to tell her something she was my go-to person. I felt like she was more of a friend than a teacher, but also my light at the end of the tunnel. She was always telling me that everything was going to be okay and that I was going to make it no matter what happened.

I threw Stephanie a lot of curveballs in my many years as a student, but here I am today! I am finally graduating from Passages. It has been the biggest, life-changing experience for me other than being a mother of three children. It has made me realize no matter what the challenge is. . . if there is a will, there is a way!

A. Wahlstrom

Amber Lynn Wahlstrom
Bowdoin

My Passages experience started when I first heard about Passages. I was in Richmond High School at the time, and my friend had disappeared. She was about five or six months pregnant, so after not seeing her at school for a few days I was beginning to worry. I asked around to see where she went and was told she started some homeschooling program [Passages]. Well, within a week or two I found out I was also pregnant. At first I wasn’t going to drop out, then after a couple more weeks I started feeling uneasy, and uneasy turned into mind-blowingly sick. I couldn’t leave my bathroom to sleep in my own bed, let alone go to school. I ended up dropping out in September and I started Passages in December of 2014.

In December of 2014 I found out I was going to have a baby girl. Within my first week I was in the program I went to my first workshop. I met some friends that I still remain in contact with. I was beyond nervous, and when I got there it got worse. I was the only one who was pregnant, and I was very obviously pregnant. I felt like I didn’t really belong, but I ended up having the greatest time meeting people and I got to play with a little girl named Sophia all day. That is my first Passages memory.

At first I wasn’t sure how to feel about my teacher, Joy, who, if anyone has met her, knows she’s sweet and would help anyone. Through the years Joy has seen me through some of the hardest times of my life. She’s seen me through motherhood, losing loved ones, homelessness, and motherhood again. She’s never lost hope with me, never let me lose my motivation, and has helped me through the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. Within almost four years of being in Passages she’s become a very big part of my and my kids’ lives.

Passages is amazing. You learn so much about children and yourself during the process. From Pregnancy to Early Childhood Development, the courses help you learn a lot. Some give you a chance to gain life skills. You learn about driving and car insurance. You also get to learn CPR and First Aid, which in my case changed my entire life, because I’m going into the medical field now, when previously I was going to be a teacher.

I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be doing right now if I had not started Passages. I would’ve gone through a lot with no support or help. Passages has changed my life in so many ways, I can’t possibly put it all into words. I will always love the bond I have with other students and the teachers, and the bonds my children have with the other students, children, and teachers.

K. Wing

Kayla Christine Wing
Bath

First, I want to say that this program has helped me accom- plish a lot of things, not just school, but in be- coming the best mom I can be for my children and getting to know myself. Thank you so much!

This program has helped me learn more than the basic skills in school: it has taught me how to deal with real life, like how to apply for jobs and a lot more. This program has also helped me be a better mom. When I need advice or help with my children they were there to support me and to help me research things.

For example, at one point I needed help finding a parenting group to join and needed help learning how to discipline my child in a healthy way. My teacher helped me and we also were able to incorporate it into my schoolwork.

I also like how they have workshops. They were my absolute favorite because I was meeting new people and moms. I also was learning a lot from the workshops. There was one workshop that stuck out to me and made me so happy. When I first began the Program, we went to an elderly home with my son. The women and men there were so happy to see the children and I loved talking to them and learning about their lives!

Passages never gave up on me, nor did my teachers. This was one of the best programs I have known in my life and will forever have the people all involved in my heart! Thank you, Passages Program, for everything!


Passages Press – Graduation 2017 Part 1

Posted on Friday June 30, 2017

This year we graduated 19 Passages Students from across the state of Maine! The Passages Press provides an excerpt from each student describing their experience at Wayfinder Schools, and discussing their Passage project, a required final project of the student’s choosing. Congratulations to all of our graduates!

 

N. Berry

Nikiah L. Berry
Belmont

Being in the Passages Program has been an amazing experience. I was able to finish school and be a mother to my daughter. When I found out about this program I still thought it was going to be a while until I graduated because I didn’t think I could do it, but I was wrong. It was a self-learning experience and I learned a lot about myself and how to be a better mother. I’ve achieved and amounted to so much this year that I had once thought was beyond me. This program isn’t just school, it also teaches you a lot about life and skills you are going to need as a parent. My teacher has been amazing. She helps me with everything, explains when I don’t understand, and she is great with my daughter and my needs. I feel that leaving this program and going off on my own will be a lot easier because of everything Erica has taught me. My teacher wasn’t just my teacher, but my friend through my experience at Wayfinder, and that is something I admire a lot. I feel like this program was far better than going to regular high school. I would recommend this to any teen parent because honestly it’s the best option in my opinion.

My Passage was baking. I chose this because I have always wanted to be an owner of a restaurant, but haven’t been a good baker. To have a restaurant I think that you need to have baked goods as well as regular food. There’s one catch to my project: I am baking for a diabetic, so my recipes are sugar-free and they have to taste good. I choose to do diabetic recipes for my grandfather because he loves to eat sweets but needs to watch the sugar. My expert Megan helped me through my Passage and taught me a lot of new things that I didn’t know about baking. Learning how to bake has been a wonderful experience, because I can use what I learned at home as well. Without the Passages program I wouldn’t have had this experience and wouldn’t have learned everything that I did and I am very thankful to have this.

S. Callahan

Shane Callahan
Rockland

When I first started in Passages I thought it was going to be like getting into the GED program. After going through the program, I realized that Passages is way better. I am getting my actual high school diploma, which is a bonus, while being able to work and do other things around my school work. During the program I attended many of the workshops. I enjoyed these workshops mostly because I got to bring my son Brayden, and he got to play with other kids while I was doing school stuff. I like how the program focuses on life skills and not just educational school work.

For my final Passage, I worked with Drew from Midcoast Music Academy to learn to play the drums. One thing I have always loved is music. I have always wanted to learn to play the drums and guitar. Drums have been an  underrated instrument and I thought it would be a perfect fit for me – plus I can jam sometimes with Brayden. If it wasn’t for Passages I wouldn’t be able to afford lessons on my own, plus I don’t think I would have been able to fit it into my schedule if it wasn’t for my teacher helping to motivate me.

D. Debrienza

Deserea Debrienza
Lewiston

As everyone knows, being a young mom isn’t that easy; it’s a little rough! As a young parent, I was trying to finish high school, find a job, and take care of the baby. Thanks to Wayfinder Schools, young parents have a second chance at opportunities they thought they’d lost. The teachers help us students in any way they can. Teachers will try to make it happen, and they are with you every step of the way, even at your own pace! The one special thing that I noticed about being in Passages is that they are not only focused on us students, but they also focus on our kids as well. I thought that was really cool because it made me more comfortable knowing that I have that other person helping me raise my baby; the teachers build a bond with us as much as with our kids!

When I got accepted into Passages I was nervous and scared at the same time, but I overcame all my fears! It was the best choice I have ever made. We go on trips like apple picking, and have special events at the school. I enjoyed myself because they focus on you, the baby, but also your education, and how to use the resources around you. They help you pursue what you want to do in life, even after you graduate.

My experience in Passages has been such a journey for me, and it’s one that I wasn’t expecting. They have so many good opportunities before you graduate and after you graduate. Here I am today taking one step closer–even if it’s tiny steps–to my dreams, all thanks to Wayfinder Schools. Before I was shy, closed up. I was an isolated girl that took a month to say ‘Hi, how are you?’ to one person coming through the door. Now I am saying, ‘Hi, how are you!?’ to everyone I walk by, even if they don’t say it back! It makes me feel better and stronger inside emotionally and physically tobeabletosayIcandothis!!!Iam overcoming my fear of being shy. I want to Thank Katy and Dana for helping me reach my goals.

H. Dow

Heaven Lee Dow
Lewiston

My name is Heaven Dow. I have a fearless 4 year old daughter and a sweet 8 month old boy. I’ve been in the Passages program for about three-and-a-half years. When I started Passages I was completely lost. I felt like I just started my journey in motherhood and I was failing already. As I completed each core skill, I had more and more faith in myself not only as a mother but as a person.

School has always been important to me, but with my home life being so crazy and stressful I couldn’t focus on my work. That’s what this program is for though, to help us young parents who don’t have “normal” lives. Not only is the curriculum fantastic but the student-teacher bond is one of a lifetime.

My teacher Megan has guided me, supported me, and pushed me to do my best more than most adults in my life have. She’s been there for me when it comes to school and when I’ve needed extra support in my home life as well. My fiancé is a recovering addict and I was hit by a car last March, moved twice, and had a beautiful baby this school year. This has been the hardest year yet. I wouldn’t have been able to graduate if Megan wasn’t in my corner supporting me in any way she could. Sometimes she helped by leaving ginger tea outside my door when I had morning sickness, or helping me start easing my way back to school after my accident, sometimes even typing for me when I couldn’t. Some days she just sent me an encouraging text message. She also helped me learn how to parallel park, she took me to get the papers to apply for my permit, and not only watched my children while I did schoolwork, she played with them and built a bond with them that they can hold onto.

This program has changed my life in more ways then I could ever tell you and has changed so many of us young parents lives that wouldn’t have been able to get an education if it wasn’t for Passages.

L. Emmons

Lateesha R. Emmons
Springvale

Imagine being 20 years old, married, a mother of two, having your own place and your own car, you work and life isn’t so bad, but there is one downfall . . . you haven’t finished high school. Believe it or not, it made me feel ashamed that I was still in school at my age. It made me feel like a child, which I clearly am not.

Wayfinder Schools is a great school. The teachers are wonderful people, you make your own schedule, and do the work on your own time. This school does more than just teach you schoolwork, it teaches you about real life problems. They help you break out of your shell and become the person everyone knows you can be.

Being a mother is hard. Being a mother that goes to school is even harder. Many moms usually just give up on school, but I would tell any young parent that hasn’t finished school to try Passages at Wayfinder Schools. In two short years I finished all my school work, all the community service hours, and here I am getting ready to graduate!! For once in my life I can say I am proud of myself all thanks to the staff of Wayfinder Schools. Thank you!

(Editor’s note: Lateesha is working on her memoir; this is a small excerpt.)

Life’s tough. You have so many things to learn about. Sometimes it will be really hard to even open your eyes, never mind go into the world and have to learn about everything under the sun. As a young child if you have a dream never stop fighting for it. I have always wanted to be a singer, but I let my dream pass. Now, from time to time, I find myself sad, knowing I have a good voice that could have been heard and now is just stuck in the closet forever. Nothing is ever out of your reach. If you work hard and keep a positive mind you will make it.

Every day is a new chance for you to start over or better yourself. A positive lifestyle doesn’t happen in one day. You have to work on yourself and your life every day. Not every day will be easy, nothing that is good comes easy. Just have faith, and hope – never lose hope. Giving up isn’t an option; life is what you make it. Make it a good one.

R. Flanders

Ryan Alexander Flanders
Rockland

Traditional schools rarely offer students the chance to be self-reflective, or to do something truly meaningful for themselves. As any student in Passages knows that in order to graduate you need to complete your Passage Project. Paraphrasing the Passage Guidelines, it states the project must be something personal, and meaningful.

I have an intense fear of water. I chose to focus on learning to swim for my Passage project. At first I imagined that I was being too self indulgent, too greedy. I thought that to choose something personal was to take advantage of the program for personal gain. While technically, that’s not wrong, now that I’ve started, I understand an entirely new side to this project, and its importance. I chose a fear. It has ruled my summers, time at pools, and prevented many good experiences. I enrolled in a 6-week swimming class as part of my Passage and until I entered the water, I doubted myself completely, but I was very pleasantly surprised. I was nervous, but I had fun. Which hadn’t happened in many years and I was able to push myself, just a bit farther than I expected and that’s incredible.

Without Passages I probably wouldn’t have ever faced my fears and I never would have had the support network that the school offers. It’s a small thing, but in a few moments I proved more to myself than anyone or anything before had. I’ll be forever grateful to Passages for this. It’s just another testament to the fact that this isn’t just a high school. Yes, I completed my credits, and there was work, but the teachers, the personal experiences, the workshops, and the Passage is worlds more meaningful than any other school could ever hope to be. I, like my peers, was going through a very tough time when I enrolled in Passages, but the teachers never gave up on me, they were never unsupportive, and the message that has been driven over and over into my head by this program is that, “I can.” That’s a big thing.

Final thoughts: if there is ever one thing I could share with people, it would be the following passage from one of my favorite people, comedian Bill Hicks. Life is scary, and ever changing, and I like the idea of hope. I like dreams of peace, and I strongly believe that nothing should be taken TOO seriously. This speech encompasses that feeling well:

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.” -Bill Hicks

D. Foley

Desiree Foley
Washington

It’s More Than Just a Diploma

My name is Desiree Foley. I’m 20 years old. I’ve been with Passages since 2015. I really like the Passages program because it has given me an opportunity I never thought I was going to have – which is to graduate. Having an actual high school diploma rather than a GED is a significant accomplishment. When I found out I was pregnant with my son, my life was already going in a downward spiral. I wasn’t in school, and I wasn’t really striving to become anything. My son Landon, even at 2 years old, has been my best cheerleader. He reminds me of why and who I am doing this for.

Thanks to Passages, I’ve found myself. I’m a lot happier and healthier. The school has so much love and compassion for their students. I really like that Passages has given me a chance to still succeed at my job, while being able to work towards my diploma – all with a helping hand along the way. Passages has shown me that I am more than just a statistic. Just because I’m a young mom, doesn’t mean my life is over. They’ve given me so many opportunities I wouldn’t have found on my own.

My teacher Cindy, is an amazing teacher. She’s so passionate, genuine, and understanding. She’s helped me with so much more than just school. She’s helped me with my daily outside life, she pushed me to become a better person, and made me realize that I can do anything I put my mind too. She also taught me that everything gets better in time, and I just need to take everything one step at a time. Everything will work out when it’s supposed to. I really enjoyed being able to have one-on-one meetings with her, and she was so flexible with the scheduling. I’m sure I was a headache for her, but she never lost her patience and never gave up. She’s been the best motivator.

I’m so thankful for my experience with this school. I have so much more in life to look forward to now, and my options are endless. My son now has a mother he can be proud of, I can now say that I have a high school diploma, and that I never gave up. Thank you Wayfinder Schools!

His Life, My Gift

At first, being a single mom was the most terrifying thought I could have; especially a first time mom. How am I going to raise a little human, when I barely have a stable life myself? How am I going to keep him safe and healthy? Going into this alone was hard. I was constantly scared that I was messing up and that I wasn’t giving him the life he deserved. I was scared that I wasn’t giving him enough attention or that I wasn’t making him happy or that I wasn’t helping him reach all his milestones accurately. I was going into this completely blind.

Being a single mom has turned out to be the best experience ever. I’ve gotten to bond with my son on a much higher level because I’m there for all his wants and needs, and I’m all he wants. He’s the happiest baby I’ve ever met. He’s so healthy, and even though he was a preemie, he’s exceeding his milestones. His laugh can make even the greyest days brighter. His smile melts my heart. I’m HIS mumma, and he makes it known. I couldn’t imagine my situation being any different. He’s my absolute sunshine. He’s given me so much strength and courage because everything I do, I do for him.

A. Gabriel

Amber Marie Gabriel
Pleasant Point

My experience with Passages was great. When I first started the program I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got more into the schoolwork I realized that I could do the work at my own pace. That was great. It was nice being able to do the work when I wanted to and I didn’t have to do the work in any special order. I liked that I was able to do whatever core skill I wanted to and when I wanted to.

I also liked being able to stay at home and do my schoolwork. I liked having a teacher come here. My kids enjoyed seeing Fern every Tuesday. I may have slowed down at one point, but Fern never gave up on pushing me to get it done.

Some of the things I remember the most are:

1) A science experiment I did called, “PlasticMilk.”

2) The time I tie-dyed shirts with my sisters and my kids and it
counted as school work.

3) The CPR class was fun, even though I already knew most of what she showed us.

4) Last year’s Christmas party was great because I had both of my kids with me and they had so much fun. My kids decorated plates for my mom as a Christmas present and together we made little rice-stuffed snowmen.

D. Gagnon

Deidra Marie Gagnon
Sabbatus

I began the Passages Program four years ago. I had an eleven-month-old named Kaylynn and was due with my second daughter, Evelyn, that month. While being in Passages I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know before. I learned that I could get through everything that was thrown at me. I also learned a lot about my kids. They have grown up watching me do whatever it takes to make a better life for them and myself.

One of the challenges I faced was juggling school and work, while being a mother to two little girls. Self care has also been a challenge for me because I’m so focused on what my children need that I often don’t stop to think about what I need for myself.

Passages has taught me that just because you’re a young parent doesn’t mean you can’t finish your schooling. I knew that I’d always wanted to be the first one in my family to graduate and I was going to do what it took to get there. This spring, I came close to not doing my final Passage project. After my first expert was unable to work with me I had to find a new one.

During this program I had a few major setbacks, but I wasn’t going to let that get in my way. I took a six week leave due to health issues and I still pushed through even though I needed to focus on getting better. I wasn’t going to let anything bring me down. When I came back from my six week leave I did better than ever. I knocked out assignment after assignment.

My teacher, Joy, pushed me to do my best because she knew what I was capable of and just what I needed to do to pick myself back up. She definitely showed me what the meaning of support was when I felt so alone. I feel honored to be one of her first students in Passages. We grew to find a system that worked for both of us no matter what happened in the process.

Joy is a very caring person and I couldn’t be happier to have her as a teacher. Passages teaches you a lot about self care because if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to provide for your loved ones.

K. Glidewell

Kelly May Glidewell
Calais

I loved having a great school. It’s not only great school, but I had great teachers, too. They are all sweet, kind, and caring people. I loved working hands-on rather than in a book because it’s easier for me to learn this way. I also liked learning with a one-on-one teacher. Working around other people in public school made it hard. All the students in Passages were nice and we all got along, plus the other kids and babies were cute. I loved all the workshops we did all together and all the crafts we made. Not only that, but we got to do homework about self care and about the safety of our child. We had to get our First Aid and CPR certification, and our driver’s permit to graduate, which is amazing because getting to places for your child and work is hard sometimes. I’m going to miss going to school, but I’m so happy I chose this place, and I’m happy I got to meet new friends and amazing teachers.

My Passage : Hiking the Dream

Hiking is not only just for the health of my body, it’s what calms me and alters my hormones to a more relaxed, less-stressed state. I like seeing what’s really there, and capturing that in images to share.

My first hike was at Cobscook Park in Edmunds with friends. It was an amazing place to go – really beautiful. We took pictures together and we ended up getting lost, but finally found our way out. A few months later we went there again. We all went for a walk to the beach and around the trails, then we went back to the campsite and we cooked hotdogs and s’mores. It was quite the trip.

Next, Blaine and I went to Reversing Falls in Pembroke with my teacher. I was so amazed to see how nice and beautiful it was there. Blaine and I went to the broken boat on shore. It was so gross and muddy. We followed the trail and ended up finding the way to the huge rock where the tide was switching. When we finally got there and I was so happy to go look and just be with nature – seeing the tides switch and spotting seals. It was the best feeling I’ve had in awhile.

After Reversing Falls, we went to Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec. I never thought we had such a gorgeous place like this not too far from where I live. I took pictures of the huge and beautiful lighthouse near the beach. The lighthouse and the clouds made it look like you were in a beautiful storm. We hiked to a place called The Bog and it was so magical. There was five layers of moss and all kinds of plants with a boardwalk going around it. I loved how peaceful the place was. After The Bog we went to the beach. It was amazing to see the waves crashing on the big rocks. I saw a big rock that looked over the beach, so I climbed it even though it was really windy. I went up there just to get a few photos and to enjoy the satisfaction of actually climbing it and getting the photos I wanted.

I did this Passage because I love the outdoors and I love to get away and to feel peaceful. I take pictures to remember all the cool hikes I did and to capture all the nature around me that you might never know. I would love to be a photographer. I like the exercise aspect of hiking, but I also like the chance to stop and hear things. When you are standing still in the forest, it comes back alive. Some- times it might even forget you are there and allow you the opportunity to see it more as it is when you are not there.


Our visit to Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute

Posted on Sunday May 21, 2017

Earlier this month, a group of Passages students visited Maine Med’s Research Institute in Scarborough, where they met with Dr. Lucy Liaw and Dr. Michaela Reagan. Students toured labs and learned about the cancer and cardiovascular research being conducted by Dr. Liaw and Dr. Reagan. Students learned about the day-to-day life of a scientist, as well as the education and experience necessary to pursue a career in the sciences. Thank you to Doctors Liaw and Reagan for the tour and the inspiration!

everyone!

conference

another kiss


Our NYC Blog! By student Magen Bongomin.

Posted on Monday April 24, 2017

Five Days in NYC. By Magen Bongomin.

Day 1

departure

We woke up and had our stuff in the vans and we departed at nine. We ate our lunch on the road where we sang along to show tunes. When we got to the place we were staying we got our room assignments. We ate dinner and then went to the skyline where we kicked a soccer ball around and took pictures.

magen first night  reny first night  jos first night alissa first night

 

Day 2

We woke up at seven and ate breakfast and were out the door by eight. We went to Legal Grounds where we got coffee and hot chocolate. Then we took a ferry to Ellis Island and Liberty Island. The first time we landed in Manhattan we landed in Battery Park. We went to the Tenement Museum where we learned about immigration. Then we went on our food tour which lasted about a few days. We ate some good doughnuts and also great pickles and dumplings. We bought two ducks which would be our dinner that night. Later we went on our first PATH train which was crowded and we had to squish together. Cathy made a good duck soup with Elisabeth’s help. We ended our day with a circle.

alissa jos magen ferry  devin reny    jos and al  statue

Day 3

We woke up at seven and were out by eight as usual. We went on the PATH train and we met up with Elisabeth’s family. Elisabeth’s dad told us a lot about the Brooklyn Bridge as we walked across it. Then we walked around Brooklyn and ate lunch at Roberta’s. After devouring 18 pizzas we got a tour of a roof garden. Then we hopped on a train and went to the MOMA. We were at the MOMA for two hours and then went to the Highline. We were at the Highline ‘til we reached Chelsea Market for dinner. By this time everyone had had enough of walking and wanted to go home. Then we had a circle to talk about the MOMA. After that we went to bed and everyone passed out.

brdige 3  happy brooklyn bridge  more bridge  hussan bridge  

Day 4

We helped out the old folks who couldn’t leave their houses. We split up into four groups and went to get food to the old folks. Some of the old folks were talkative some were not. After that we split into two groups and went to Central Park. There was a slow group and an active group some took naps and some didn’t. The other group visited some of Central Park’s museums. After that we ended up at Astor Place where we spun the cube while we waited for some group members. Magen got her nail job complimented on. After that we went to dinner at Milon’s and ate many different foods and celebrated Sean’s birthday with ice cream. After that we explored St. Mark’s Place; a street with unique stores. Not much was bought in St. Mark’s place but we had fun nonetheless. Then we went home for circle and bed.

devin bench

Day 5

We awoke and hopped on the train to the World Trade Center where we visited Ground Zero to honor the fallen. And after that we explored the area near Broadway before we saw School of Rock. We split into two groups again the slow group and the active group. Some visited the cathedral and some visited the Empire State Building. When we were done we went to Broadway where we saw the School of Rock. Afterwards we got a back stage tour where Magen got so excited to find out that the star of the show went to her old school! After that we went to Times Square and took pictures and then we hopped on a train and went home.

  everyone sor aliss and jos school of rock  cath dev sor  more sor 2

Thank you to all who made this trip possible for us!

cath times sq copy  magen times sq  jos oren times sq  everyone times sq


Two Book Reviews by students Deidra and Leanna

Posted on Thursday April 13, 2017

Soldier Mom

Reviewed by Deidra Pushard – Richmond

I read Soldier Mom by Alice Mead and I loved it.  It was about an eleven-year-old girl named Jasmyn and her brother Andrew.  Their mother is in the U.S. army; at the beginning of August 1990 she was called to serve in the Persian Gulf War.  Who was going to take care of Jas and her baby half-brother?  Mom’s boyfriend, Jake, who was also Andrew’s father, would look after them for mother.  Jasmyn was really upset that her mother could just up and leave them.  The day her mother left was really hard on Jas.  Mom tried to stay home, but the army wouldn’t let that happen. When her mother left I cried.  Jas was worried that something bad would happen to Mom while she was at war.  Jake wasn’t very good at planning the schedule for dinner, let alone packing Andrew’s diaper bag for daycare.

I chose this book because I have a lot of friends in the army. The story takes place in Maine and it is a really great book. Some parts get sad and they made me cry. I would definitely recommend this book to others because it is a real eye opener for people that are wanting to join the U.S. Army.  It shows you that you can’t take things for granted. Everything is possible.  I felt connected with the character named Jas, because when my brother went into the army I never knew when I was going to hear from him so I always waited by the phone like Jas did, waiting for her mother to call.

 

Number the Stars

Reviewed by Leanna Cole – Lyman

 

I found this book by Lois Lowry to take a long time to get through. It was slow moving for me. The book has me caught in a mutual zone of optimism and pessimism. It makes me feel optimistic by that fact that people were able to find ways to get around the Holocaust and they will do so again if a situation arises. Another reason for my optimistic view is because what I know about the Holocaust and this book made sense together. People got in trouble for being a part of the Holocaust. How would a whole country make that mistake again?

My pessimistic views on the other hand tends to be more of my type of thinking. If we take things that are currently happening with our government and connected them to things that happened in this book, things aren’t much different. Could it be possible that we elected a president who could do this? In the book its says how the police go into homes and take the Jewish people away to concentration camps. Our homeland security officers are currently taking

away undocumented immigrants. History has a way of repeating itself. Is it human nature to think we can perform the same actions and get different outcomes? I think that our human nature makes us weak. We are puppets on a string to the next event that comes along. If we notice it before it starts we will we stop it.

This book has made me worried about our future as a country. Is it really possible that we are capable of doing this kind of damage? I think we are, but only if we let ourselves. This book has made me want to keep up on current events within my country. I will most definitely be watching for more of our president’s laws.


Science Corner: Talking Science with Passages students Rochelle, Deidra and Nikiah

Posted on Wednesday April 12, 2017

Bug Science

by Rochelle Millay – Machiasport

I remember science class in my middle school at Fort O’Brien. In seventh grade we caught insects and put them into jars and then stuck them with a pin and put them on a piece of styrofoam. I remember my friend, Aleaha, caught some weird looking spiders.  One of them was about the size of a nickel, with a white abdomen. I HATE spiders! I think that they are the most repulsive things. I remember catching a grasshopper, a cricket, and a bee. After we were done collecting bugs, we labeled them with their scientific names, and then did a lot of research.

Blobs and Bubbles

by Deidra Pushard – Richmond

What you need:

A clean, 1-liter soda bottle

3/4 cup of water

Vegetable oil

Fizzing tablets (Alka-Seltzer)

Food coloring

 

Directions:

– Put water into soda bottle

– Fill the rest of the bottle with oil 
- Add about 10 drops food coloring of your choice

– Add half of an Alka-Seltzer tablet to start

 

Observations:

– The water and oil didn’t combine.  When I put food coloring in, it sat on the line between the water and oil.
- When I added 1/2 an Alka-Seltzer tablet, it started to bubble. The bubbles stayed green and the liquid turned light green.
- When I added more Alka-Seltzer,  it kept fizzing and the bubbles got bigger.
- When I added some blue food coloring, it started to fizz and bubble. It looked blue and green.
- After about ten minutes, there was a dark layer of food coloring at the bottom, and the oil was still bubbly. They were little bubbles and a light greenish color. Every once in awhile, a big bubble popped up to the top.
- After 3 or 4 days, I dumped out the bottle because oil started to come through the bottom like it was eating it.  Before I dumped it, there was a big blob of black color at the bottom.  It wasn’t a bubble—it was a big blob filling the bottom of the bottle.  The water and the oil was clear, and the oil was on top of the water.

 

What I expected to happen:

I thought that the bubbles would just float. I didn’t expect that they would sink to the bottom first.  This must be because a big bubble would float up to the top, after almost all of the littler ones had already done this and popped, I figured out that this must have happened because it had enough gas to get to the top. Also, I kind of thought that the oil and water would combine, because that does happen sometimes when you are cooking.

 

Conclusion:

We talked about how all things (matter) never really go away, but instead they can be part of a never ending cycle of change. We talked about the water cycle, and how water evaporates and goes up into the sky, and then it comes back down again as rain.  We also talked about density, which is how compact matter is. An example is a bubble and a pebble.  They could be the same size, but the pebble is denser and heavier, and will always sink in water, but bubbles will float up to the surface.  So in this experiment the oil floated above the water because it is less dense than the water.

 

Diaper Science

by Nikiah Berry – Belmont

 

As a science experiment, I tested different types of diapers to see which one is most absorbent. I tested these three brands: Huggies, Luvs, and Parent’s Choice.

 

Hypothesis:

I think that after testing these diapers, Huggies with be the most absorbent because they are advertised all over the TV. I think that Parent’s Choice will be the least absorbent.

 

Materials:

Diapers, water, and a bin

 

Procedure:

1 – Collect materials
2- Take diaper #1 and pick apart all the cotton.
Put all the cotton in a bin.

3- Shake about 4 times to get the powder away from the cotton. When done shaking then put all the cotton in trash. There should be only powder in the bin.

4- Pour one pitcher of water into the bin with the diaper powder.

5- Observe what happens.

Feel diaper power & water mixture with hands.

6-Record observations.

7-Repeat steps 2-6 for other two diaper brands.

 

Observations:

I noticed that the Luv diaper brand were the most absorbent.

The Huggies brand were pretty absorbent, but less absorbent the Luvs.

I noticed that Parent’s Choice brand were the least absorbent of the three.

 

Conclusion:

After doing all this test I came to conclusion that Luvs is the most absorbent diaper. I use Luvs already and will continue to using them.

 


Thinking about Government, by Passages student Amber Burns

Posted on Wednesday April 12, 2017

statue     When I started learning about U.S. history and citizenship, I thought it was going to be really hard. Now I’m glad I know more about what the state spends and how all the money is used, and more about the history of civil and voting rights.

I didn’t realize that even after women got the right to vote in 1920, they still couldn’t do much else. I didn’t know women needed permission to have a bank account and they couldn’t have birth control without their husband’s permission. That explains why families used to be so much bigger.  My grandfather wouldn’t allow my grandmother to use birth control and she had seven kids. I kind of knew about how minorities didn’t have many legal rights until the 1950s and 60s, but I didn’t know that you could literally be killed for trying to vote, or for eating at a lunch counter, going to an all-white school, or basically just leaving your part of town. I didn’t know that it was significantly after everyone else, in 1948, that all Native Americans got the right to vote. I never really thought about this. I just thought everyone had the right to vote.

I didn’t know that President Trump would get to pick everybody in his cabinet and that his appointments need to get the approval of Congress.  I learned that it was set up this way in the Constitution so we wouldn’t end up with a dictatorship.

I learned that the Constitution contains all the rights and responsibilities for citizens and that it can protect us more than hurt us by giving people a fair trial, the right to free speech and assembly, which means protest, the right to vote, the right to own guns, and the right to choose your religion.  When the Constitution was written in 1787, it said that only white, Protestant, land-owning men could vote. This was less than 10% of the population.  Over time, amendments to the Constitution were voted in to make changes.

Another thing about the Constitution is that it outlines the three branches of government, the executive, judicial, and congressional branches, and what they can and cannot control.  It was designed this way so that no one branch can have all the power.

After 230 years of the Constitution, it’s still around and it works. I think it’s good because it guarantees fair trials, people aren’t allowed to be improperly treated by police officers, and I can, as a citizen use the amendments to my benefit. They allow me choice and protection. As a citizen, you really should vote if you can. One of my old teachers always said, “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about what happens.”


Breanna’s Open House Speech. Read it here!

Posted on Saturday March 18, 2017

reny and breanna

Pictured above, L-R: Residential student Serenity Brezler, Passages Teacher Erica Gates and Passages Graduate Breanna Moody at our March 2017 Open House in Camden

Breanna Moody’s Open House Speech, March 16, 2017

Breanna gave this speech to a crowd of close to forty people gathered at Wayfinder Schools’ Camden Campus

“Thank you all for joining us tonight. I’m Breanna Moody, a 2016 graduate of the Passages Program. I want to share with you this evening my experiences and opportunities while in a program that means so much to me and helped me become the person I am today. I was 17 when I started the Passages Program in October of 2015.  I was 20 weeks pregnant.

As a young mother and student, a few of the biggest challenges for me were balancing school, learning to be a mother, and a becoming a productive member of the community. Passages helped me with all of this. Not only was I able to learn to manage time but I learned to manage my money. My teacher, Erica Gates, taught me how to budget and helped me find the most effective way for me.

During my time in the Passages Program, I participated in the Lullaby Project, became certified in first aid and CPR and just months before graduating I enrolled in a CNA certification program and was employed two months prior to graduating. It wasn’t easy balancing all of this but looking back on my experience I know my motivation and determination to succeed as well as the help I got from my teacher and other staff members allowed me achieve more than I had ever thought I could.

As I mentioned before, I was a part of Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project (with Bay Chamber Concerts & Music School). I was able to work with musicians Matt and Stephanie Fogg to write a lullaby that we eventually called “Hadley’s Song.” My lullaby ended up being picked to be played by musicians at Carnegie Hall in New York. The Lullaby Project was the most memorable thing I did and I enjoyed the musicians and the fact I now have a special song I can forever share with my daughter.

While a part of the Passages Program I also volunteered at the soup kitchen in Rockland. It felt great to give back to people and I learned that it actually feels better to give rather than to take. Erica was also there and volunteered with me.

While working on my Passage (the final project for graduation), I also had the chance to go to a Toast master’s meeting and present my final project, which was a speech about being a teen parent. I was awarded as the first place speaker that night.

It took me one year and eight months to graduate with my high school diploma and since that day in June 2016, I have done many things. I am working full time as a CNA at Windward Gardens here in Camden, a job that I have had for one year this month. I am a single mother who is confident in managing my time with work, parenting and making time for myself. My daughter will be two this week and is becoming a wild and crazy two-year-old, just as she should be. I love feeling like I can be the role model that Hadley deserves. For this I thank the Passages Program and flexibility I was able to have as a student and a mother.”

 

 


Meet Julia!

Posted on Sunday March 5, 2017

Meet our newest Passages Teacher, Julia Johnston!

best

Julia recently joined our Passages team, and is based at our New Gloucester campus, along with fellow Passages Teachers Megan Shea and Dana Fadel. Together, they cover York, Cumberland and Androscoggin Counties.

Julia came to Maine in 2016, but says she feels more at home here than any of the many places she has lived. Some of her passions include cooking, hiking, gardening, reading and kayaking, and “admiring the beauty of Maine.”

Her past teaching experience includes a bilingual French American school, an alternative high school, a refugee English class, and one-on-one tutoring for all different ages. Julia holds a Bachelor in History from Oberlin College, a Master of Architecture from Va Tech, and a Masters of Teaching from Rhode Island College. Prior to teaching she was an architect in Colorado and Rhode Island.

Julia says, “Teaching at Wayfinder is a welcome opportunity to combine many of my passions into one meaningful job. I am very excited to be able to work so closely with students, and watch them and their children grow and succeed.”

Passages Program Director Martha Kempe says, “We are so thrilled to have Julia join our southern Maine team!  She brings many teaching skills and experiences that are a wonderful complement to our dedicated Passages team. Welcome, Julia!”

 

 


Happy Valentine’s Day from Wayfinder Schools!

Posted on Tuesday February 14, 2017

erica  finger paint!  cooking  more puzzles

Scenes from our recent Passages workshop in Camden, including making Valentine’s art and Valentine’s cookies!

snuggle    happy