Archive for October, 2009

Newman’s Own Foundation

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Newman’s Own Foundation awards School $25,000

Wayfinder Schools is delighted to announce a recent grant award from the Newman’s Own Foundation. Newman’s Own Foundation is a private, independent foundation established by Paul L. Newman. The foundation continues the commitment of Paul to donate all net profits and royalties earned from the sale of Newman’s Own products to charity. As of June 2009, over $270 million has been donated to thousands of charities around the world.

cschool-exteriorWayfinder Schools, based in Camden, is Maine’s oldest alternative high school, and serves hundreds of students each year through its Residential, Outreach and Passages Programs. Students in the Residential Program live at the school for the academic year, working with individual Teacher/Counselors in a self-directed course of study that honors the strengths and needs of each student as they work toward earning high school diplomas.

Residential students also study with volunteer tutors, and gain important life and work skills through communal living and internship placements. Students generally attend internship placements in the morning and early afternoon, and work on academics in the late afternoon and early evening.

tutor_studentsStudents also complete daily chores and work together to plan and prepare shared meals. Residential students also participate in Experiential Learning Expeditions to both rural and urban areas.

Last year, nine students traveled to Washington D.C for the presidential inauguration, visited museums and historic sites, and wrote a published article on their experience. For many students, this was their first trip outside the state of Maine, their first experience in an urban environment, their first use of public transportation, and their first direct experience with politics and democracy in action.

This year, the Residential Program is embarking on a new initiative to bring green education to the classroom. As part of this initiative, students will calculate their own carbon footprint, perform energy audits, develop a permaculture plan, investigate wind, solar and tidal energy, and participate in internship placements with the Newforest Institute. Students will also visit Unity College and the Chewonki Foundation, learn about sustainable agriculture, and travel to the Bay of Fundy to investigate wind and tidal power sources.

Through this new Green Project Initiative, students will learn important skills for the new green economy, and study environmental issues through a social justice lens. This approach is a direct off-shoot of the school’s philosophy of relational education, in which students form strong relationships with their Teacher/Counselors, fellow students, and their local communities.

The Passages Program, for pregnant and parenting teens, allows students to study in their own homes with individual teachers who work with students on 24 core skills, including, math, science, social studies, language arts, parenting, child development, nutrition, healthy relationships, home safety, and more.

The Outreach Program serves students who have made significant headway toward their high school diplomas through either the Residential or Passages programs, but who need an extra assist to reach their graduation goals. The Outreach program also serves former students who need assistance with SAT preparation or other academic or professional guidance or assistance. This program also allows former graduates a touchstone to the school, which in some instances has served as the first safe, structured home environment many Wayfinder Schools students have experienced. Wayfinder Schools graduated 11 Residential students last year, and will graduate an additional 13 Passages and Outreach students this month.

The Newman’s Own Foundation has provided important long-term support for Wayfinder Schools, and this year, the school is thrilled to have been selected for a $25,000 grant. In partnership with the Newman’s Own Foundation and other contributors, the school will continue to reach underserved populations, and to help young students realize their academic, career and life goals. For more information about the programs and services of Wayfinder Schools, visit

School Receives Funding

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Wayfinder Schools is pleased to announce that the Ozymandias Fund of the Tides Foundation, on the recommendation of Ms. Claudia Rouhana, has awarded a $5,000 grant in support of the Passages Program for teen parents. The Passages Program has served pregnant and parenting teens in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties since 1994. Last year, in collaboration with The Cobscook Community Learning Center, Wayfinder Schools successfully expanded the Passages Program to Washington County.

Parenting Class

Parenting Class

The Passages Program serves pregnant and parenting teens in their own homes, matching students with individual Teacher/Counselors who work with students at their own pace in 24 core areas, including math, science, social studies, language arts, home safety, child development, parenting, healthy relationships and more.

Last spring, the Passages Program graduated five mothers and one father from Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties, and an additional nine students will graduate in September.
One recent graduate said, “Hard to believe I’m finally graduating. If you had asked me four years ago if I’d ever receive a high school diploma, I would have probably told you no. Thanks to the Passages Program, I can say yes.”

Wayfinder Schools is honored to have been selected for funding by the Ozymandias Fund of the Tides Foundation. For more information about Wayfinder Schools, and about the Passages Program for teen parents, visit

Auction Coming Up!

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Elizabeth Berry, Director of Development at Wayfinder Schools, holds an ornate bowl to be auctioned off at the annual school fundraiser, along with the other items pictured.

Elizabeth Berry, Director of Development at Wayfinder Schools, holds an ornate bowl to be auctioned off at the annual school fundraiser, along with the other items pictured.

Wayfinder Schools’s Annual Auction is fast approaching and the list of auction items is impressive. From jewelry to art work, from ski packages to river rafting, from a lovely handmade quilt to a cord of wood to a massage,there is something for everyone.

Held on Saturday, November 16, the auction is a great way to get an early start on holiday shopping, while supporting a great cause. All proceeds raised during the auction support tuition costs for Wayfinder Schools students.

Not only that, the event includes a delicious dinner, a great chance to mingle with friends and neighbors, a silent auction and an exciting live auction handled by Bruce Gamage.

The auction will be held at Camden Rockport Middle School, and doors open at 4:30. Tickets are $15.

Don’t miss this chance for an evening of food, fun, great bargains and support for an important local cause. For more information, or to donate a new or antique item, call Wayfinder Schools at 236-3000 x 114.

School’s in Swing

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

The new academic year is now underway at Wayfinder Schools, and as Residential Program Director Joseph Hufnagel says, “It’s been an incredible three weeks.” As Hufnagel ticks off the accomplishments of the new group of students, who hail from Lewiston, Calais and everywhere in between, it’s easy to see why he feels so proud of the students, and their school.

The new year started with a four-day orientation session at the Tanglewood 4-H camp, where students shared stories, dreams and goals, hiked trails, pitched tents, set up camp, cooked over an open fire, and slept under the stars. Four of the students had never been camping before, and two of the students learned, during the course of the orientation, that they are actually related to each other as distant cousins.

While at Tanglewood, students participated in academics during the day, and also performed two community service projects for the camp, including helping to combat invasive species and pulling the swimming docks for the season. “The kids are working hard, and having fun,” said Hufnagel. On one of the camping evenings, the entire CSchool staff headed to Tanglewood for a potluck dinner.

After returning to the school, the students headed out again, this time to Acadia National Park, where they went rock climbing, practiced wilderness camping, and took a short detour to Bar Harbor for pizza, ice cream and a tour of several art galleries.

Wayfinder Schools Residential student, Karen Johnson, receives instruction on rock climbing from Pete Fasoldt, co-owner of Atlantic Climbing Co., in Acadia National Park. This outing was part of the school's Experiential Learning Expeditions program.(

Wayfinder Schools Residential student, Karen Johnson, receives instruction on rock climbing from Pete Fasoldt, co-owner of Atlantic Climbing Co., in Acadia National Park. This outing was part of the school's Experiential Learning Expeditions program.

In between all this activity, students have been working on math, science, social studies and English Language Arts and Literature. In addition to all of this, they have written resumes and cover letters, gone on job searches, learned how to complete college applications, and practiced business math and budgeting.

Students are about to embark on internships at Pen-Bay YMCA, The Camden Public Library, Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, Tanglewood Camp, Goodwill Industries, and other work-place sites, including a local animal shelter and nursing home.

In the meantime, all new students have secured library cards, visited the library every day, volunteered to serve lunch to school children, visited the Common Ground Fair, and worked out at the YMCA.

It doesn’t end there, as students have also planned and prepared meals, completed daily chores, gone for walks, rented movies, gone bowling, visited local art galleries, baked cookies, started weekly trips to the Newforest Institute in Brooks, and more.

While this schedule of activity might make the heads of most adults spin, the kids are loving it. When asked what he thought of the school year so far, new student Zech McIntosh said simply, “Awesome.”

For more information about Wayfinder Schools’s alternative education programs, including its Residential Program, call 236-3000 or visit

Passages Program Graduation

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

The crisp fall sun shown ever more brightly on Saturday, September 26 at Camden’s John Street Methodist Church, as Wayfinder Schools celebrated the graduation of six Passages students.

Amber Chaisty, Carly Lewis, Ashley Mellor, Breanna Novicka, Jane Tarbox, and Misha Taylor completed 24 core skills to successfully graduate with a high school diploma. In Passages tradition, students select the music, slides for the slide show and color of their graduation gown. This year, students in bright red, white, black and sky blue gowns attended the ceremony. With friends, family and children looking on, each student received her diploma, a copy of the slideshow, graduation newsletter and a single rose from their teacher following a few words about their work together.

Wayfinder Schools’s Passages program is a home-based high school degree program for young parents (age 14-21) residing in Knox, parts of Lincoln, Waldo and Washington Counties. Graduates receive a private high school diploma approved by the Maine Department of Education.

graduates and Andrea

Graduates and Andrea

To receive their diplomas, Passages students must complete 24 Core Skills in academics, parenting and life skills, attend group workshops, and do at least six hours of community service. Their final project, called the Passage, is a project that addresses a real passion, fear, risk or challenge of theirs. Once the topic is chosen the student plans and executes the project with the help of a committee and volunteer expert on the topic. But it is up to the student to execute the project.

Each student’s Passage represented the diverse interests and skills of the graduate. This year Amber Chaisty planned and built her own greenhouse. Ashley Mellor learned how to sew, making two outfits for her daughter and documenting it in a children’s book. Breanna Novicka completed a short novel she started years ago. Carly Lewis produced a video memoir, Jane Tarbox raised money for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program and Misha Taylor journaled her move with her son to Japan.

This year Passages was especially grateful to Malcolm Brooks, the Emmy-award winning musician and teacher who provided the music and procession accompaniment. Passages teachers include Andrea Itkin, Janet Larkin and Martha Kempe. Season’s Downeast provided each graduate with a rose and Plants Unlimited lent the flower arrangements for the ceremony and reception. A special thanks goes to Andrea Itkin who created a memorable slideshow made up of the student’s own pictures for the occasion.

To learn more about Passages please go to our website – or call, Martha Kempe, #236-8404 ext. 208.