Archive for March, 2011

One final post from the Big Apple…

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

After a late night in Time Square, we slept in this morning. We had a pleasant, warm, sunny morning circle on the veranda at our beautiful firehouse home. Then after an extremely crowded ride on the subway we landed at the American Museum of Natural History. We watched SEA REX, an Imax movie. Then had two hours of walk-around time to see what we could see. Highlights included the Brain Exhibit, the giant dug out canoe, lots of dinosaur bones and learning about indigenous people. We had the pleasure of meeting Mom and Pop Huff (Joseph’s Parents),at the museum. We took a leisurely stroll through central park which culminated in an unplanned “Afro-Bat” show. The show combined comedy with dancing and acrobatics. At the end of the park, we got in touch with our inner child at FAO Swartz. Candy was bought and eaten. We also met back up with Scott Fried to say goodbye and he thanked us for spending time in the city he calls home. Our subway ride home was uneventful in a bittersweet-goodbye-kind-of-way. We came back to our firehouse/Diantha’s Hair Salon where some of the girls got a city-chic new look.

A Maine-style Saturday night tradition of beans and franks is on the menu as we get ready for packing up and circle. A walk to the pier for our Good Bye to Jersey City is in order as well. Home tommorow, back to the grind.

Signing off,

Cathy and Amanda

Remembering Geula Pariser

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

On February 17, Wayfinder Schools lost a long-time friend and supporter, Geula Pariser, mother of Wayfinder Schools co-founder Emanuel Pariser. As we keep Emanuel and his family warmly in our thoughts and close in our hearts, co-founder Dora Lievow asked us to share the following, from The Boston Globe.

Geula Pariser, 91; linguist worked with husband at MIT

Geula Gilutz and Ernst Reinhardt Pariser married during an air raid in wartime London in 1943. Soon after, they “stood together on a rooftop in London to report the location of fires started by Nazi attacks,’’ to direct firefighters to them, said their son, Emanuel of Waterville, Maine. Once, he said, they had to move out of their London apartment because an unexploded bomb in their ceiling had to be detonated. “Together,’’ he said “they shared a happy and stimulating life — in England, Turkey, and the United States.’’

That life slowed 11 years ago when Mrs. Pariser suffered a stroke. She died Feb. 17 at the Brookhaven at Lexington skilled nursing center. Her son said the cause of death was “a gradual and long decline following a serious cerebral hemorrhage and stroke.’’ She was 91. She lived in Brookline and Belmont before moving to Brookhaven.

Although Mrs. Pariser was a linguist — fluent in Hebrew, Arabic, English, and French — she once worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while her husband, a biochemist, was on its staff. Her work “was observing photographs of atomic collisions,’’ her husband said.

“My mother’s job was to look carefully at the photographs taken by an electron microscope of these high-energy beams and to identify the points at which the beams collided with particles and what happened next,’’ her son explained.
“Geula, herself, was not a scientist,’’ her husband said. “She was particularly interested in languages and in Hebrew and especially in the different ways that different words in the Bible could be translated. This impressed me. She knew the Bible by heart and was extremely erudite.’’

After a hiatus with her husband in Washington, Mrs. Pariser volunteered for 10 years to teach English to families of foreign MIT faculty members. “She was really a genius at making people feel welcome and at home in a foreign country,’’ Emanuel said.

She was born in what was then Palestine, one of five children of Menachem and Deborah Gilutz. Her parents, Emanuel said, were two of the founders of Tel Aviv. Mrs. Pariser graduated from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1936, majoring in history and Arabic. She then enrolled at the University of London, graduating in 1944 with a degree in phonetics and pre-Islamic poetry. She also met her husband there. He recalled their wedding day in a synagogue on the outskirts of London. “It was during an air raid and guests who were coming by bus never arrived because they were so involved in conversation, the bus overshot the synagogue.’’

From 1947 to 1957, with their young family, the couple moved to Izmir, Turkey, where Ernst was a chief chemist at a factory owned by Lever Brothers, according to another son, Amiel, of Montreal. “It was very idyllic, very Levantine, a mix of Europe and the Middle East,’’ he said. “My mother was a great cook and great entertainer and an athlete in her younger years, winning a medal for javelin throwing while a student in Israel and playing lots of tennis in Turkey,’’ Amiel said. Emanuel described her as “an intellectual with a very exquisite sense of design and esthetics who dressed in beautiful clothes.’’

The family came to this country in 1957, when Ernst Pariser was asked to be a research scientist at MIT. He took leave from MIT for a government job in Washington, where he worked from 1960 to 1967 on developing a fish protein concentrate as a nutritional supplement for underdeveloped countries.

While in Washington, Mrs. Pariser administered support services for Peace Corps members working in South America.
Though in frail health, Mrs. Pariser never lost her interest in life, her family said. Her caretaker for 10 years, Chafia Malek of West Roxbury, said they still conversed in several foreign languages and that Mrs. Pariser made attempts to walk. “There was not a single wrinkle on her face,’’ Malek said. In the last several years, she said, Mrs. Pariser often told her, “I want to go home,’’ referring to Israel. Her family plans to take some of her ashes there.

“Geula was also a proud Israeli,’’ said Tatiana Goldwyn of Belmont, who met Mrs. Pariser in 1973 when they worked to raise funds for victims of the Yom Kippur War. She recalled her intelligence and her “extreme curiosity about many things. You always had a dialogue going with Geula,’’ she said.

Mrs. Pariser still has a large family in Israel. “For many of them, she became a second parent, though she lived a great distance away,’’ Emanuel said. “She had this gift of connecting with people.’’ Although she had to use a wheelchair since her stroke, Mrs. Pariser visited her family in Israel three times since being stricken, Amiel said.“I’ll always have the picture in my mind of her and my Uncle Ami, each in a wheelchair, holding hands. It was very sweet,’’ Amiel said.

In addition to her husband and sons, Mrs. Pariser leaves two brothers, Ami-Shalom Gilutz and Yehoshua Gilutz, and a sister, Tehila Gilutz, all of Tel Aviv; and five grandchildren.

A celebration of her life is planned in Lexington in April and in Israel in June.

Our week in The Big Apple!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Our week in The Big Apple, Day 3: Museum of Modern Art and Tina Fey!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Today we hiked 5th Ave, at least 30 blocks, from Mid-town to the MOMA. On the way we shopped a little, checked out the ice-skaters at Rockefeller Center, and even caught a glimpse of Tina Fey (!) during the filming of a 30 Rock episode. We also stopped by Emily’s father’s busy downtown office and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

At the MOMA, minds were bent in strange ways by the unusual shapes and colors of the abstract impressionists. Everyone was asked to choose a painting to stare at for three minutes, which is actually an extraordinarily long time to take in a piece of art. When we got back to the firehouse later, Tom lead an art class in which we talked about our perceptions at the MOMA and created our own works of art as reaction pieces.

Tomorrow: Brooklyn Bridge and Little Italy!

Wayfinder Schools annual dinner honors longtime volunteers

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Close to 60 people attended Wayfinder Schools’s annual dinner on February 17 at the Rockport Opera House, as the school honored long-time volunteers John and Louisa Enright, Gail Nicholson and Linda Leonard for their significant contributions to the school. Also recognized were the school’s team of academic volunteers, who donate considerable time each week to helping students with math, science, English Language Arts, individual research projects, time management, post-graduation plans and more.

The night’s speakers included Head of School Dorothy Foote, Residential Program Director Joseph Hufnagel, Passages Program Director Martha Kempe, Lead Teacher Carrie Braman, Development Director Michelle Peaco, and students from the Passages and Residential Programs.

The first student to speak was Passages student Jennifer Bodman, who spoke about the program’s impact upon on her life as a teen parent seeking her high school diploma. “I was scared,” Bodman said when she learned she was pregnant during her junior year of high school. Now on track to graduate this spring, Bodman thanked her teacher, Andrea Itkin, and said, “I couldn’t have done it without Wayfinder Schools.”

Six Residential Program students then stood to introduce themselves and share what they’ve learned during their Green Initiative and Social Justice and Diversity classes. As part of these classes, students have been studying the localvore food movement and making changes to the school’s culinary program. At the dinner, they presented the results of their research on the meat packing industry, which helped raise student awareness about environmental, economic, health and safety issues. They conducted their own food cost comparisons and made compelling arguments for the purchase of locally grown meat for the school. They also invited those in attendance to get more involved in food issues, and encouraged them to watch the documentary, Food, Inc.

After the student presentations, attendees watched a short but powerful film about The Passages Program. The film featured interviews with several Passages students who spoke about the positive impact the program has had upon their parenting, academic and long term goals.

The final portion of the evening was dedicated to the school’s volunteers. Braman spoke about the important role academic tutors play in students’ lives, and, along with art teacher Tom Butler, presented each tutor with a certificate and a single red rose.

Hufnagel then spoke about long-time volunteers John and Louisa Enright, who in addition to serving on the school’s board of directors, have acted as dedicated tutors in math and science. John served four years active-duty with the Air Force Intelligence Service before the couple moved to Washington, D.C., where they raised two sons. Before retiring and moving to Maine seven years ago, John pursued a long career in information technology and development, working for the both the Northrop-Grumman and Dynamics Research Corporations. The couple now volunteers actively in the Camden community, in between frequent visits to South Carolina to share time with their sons and growing brood of grandchildren.

Peaco then spoke about volunteer Gail Nicholson, who has dedicated countless hours to the school’s fundraising efforts, whole simultaneously acting as cheerleader and support person to the school’s staff. Peaco said, “She opens her home to us during the auction, she works with us in the evenings to catalogue auction items, and she supports and nurtures the staff.” Nicholson, who moved to Maine in 2002 after a long career as Court Curator for the US Supreme Court, is now also working on the school’s Dancing with Local Stars committee. “She does all this, Peaco said, because she believes in our school, and our students.”

Foote then introduced honoree Linda Leonard, and describing Leonard as a strong businesswoman and mentor. Leonard has served on the school’s board of directors, and has been a longtime volunteer and mentor to students. Leonard has had a long and extraordinary career in the design world, and is currently mentoring a former student as he develops a line of jewelry for distribution throughout Maine and beyond. Leonard is extremely passionate about the school, and the students, and has spent significant time making improvements to the school’s building and grounds. After receiving her award, Leonard spoke about how much fun she’s had working with the school, and how much she enjoys mentoring students. She also thanked others in the audience who have helped her in her efforts to redecorate the school with new furniture, lighting fixtures, window treatments, floors and paint. Hufnagel also acknowledged Leonard’s hard work on facilities improvements and said, “I think we have the best furnished alternative school in Maine.”

Foote closed the program by acknowledging the students, and thanking them for inspiring the school’s alternative approach to education. “You asked for something new, and demanded that we work hard to provide it, so thank you for inspiring this work.”

Our Week in The Big Apple!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

This week, Wayfinder Schools’s Residential Program students are on their annual “big city” trip. Their destination: New York City! They’ve got big plans for their week in The Big Apple, including checking out museums; visiting Central Park, China Town and Little Italy; walking the Brooklyn Bridge, visiting Ground Zero, riding the train to Grand Central Station and more. Students and chaperones are staying in Jersey City, in a converted historic firehouse, generously donated for the week by friends of the school. This is the first big city trip for many of our kids, and this year, they’ll be blogging their daily adventures for all of us back home in Maine…

Day One: Leaving Camden… and arriving in Jersey City!

Monday, 3/7: Arrived in Jersey City after 11 hours on the road! By the time we got out the door of the C School, it was 9:00am, even though we woke up at 6:30 so we could make good time. That was to be expected, I think. In any case, we headed out in some pretty serious rain that cleared up by the time we got to Massachusetts. Lots of lengthy bathroom breaks later, we were somewhere in Connecticut when we hit traffic. The highlight of many of the students’ day was realizing that on the other end of the traffic was a flood of water all the way across the road! The van and the scout and chase cars all made it through some deep water and into the city, where we enjoyed the skyline at night and took a minor accidental detour on Riverside Drive. Then the tunnel across to the amazing firehouse, where we are now all cozily writing our first impressions in our journals. My highlight of the day was walking to the waterfront in on the NJ side a few minutes ago — we could see the whole NYC skyline, including the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. We stood out on the fishing pier and pointed out particular buildings that were cool to see, and then Dawn and KJ danced under the night sky while Joseph sang the Star Spangled Banner. It’s a big world! –Carrie Braman (Lead Teacher)

Student impressions/highlights as paraphrased from their journal entries:
Tired! Wet Nervous Stressful drive! Water flowing across the highway… Lucky parking spot Joseph’s driving Laughing in the van Philosophical questions Quiet dinner Fresh air Clear night 7$ butter If all the buildings in the skyline were robots, that would be interesting! This house is beyond awesome Want to go shopping tomorrow! Looking forward to sightseeing and eating different foods (maybe seeing someone famous!)

Schedule for day two: SOHO, Canal Street and China Town; walking food tour and visit to Ground Zero.

Check back tomorrow for a complete re-cap of the first full day in the big city…

Cascade Foundation grant provides new van for Wayfinder Schools

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Cascade Foundation grant provides new van for Wayfinder Schools

Wayfinder Schools of Camden is Maine’s oldest alternative high school, and serves at-risk youth and teen parents who are drawn to the school from across Maine. It has been successfully graduating students since 1974, equipping them to handle life’s many opportunities and challenges. One of the keys to the successful programming at Wayfinder Schools is its ability to provide daily transportation for students. So when the school’s old multi-passenger van broke down the day before new students were scheduled to arrive in September, staff and volunteers were left scrambling to come up with alternatives.

The most immediate impact of the van’s loss was felt in the school’s Residential Program, in which students live at the school’s downtown campus for a nine month academic term. Each morning, residential students are transported to work sites throughout Camden, Rockland, Rockport and Lincolnville. There, they learn job skills that help prepare them for post-graduation success. In the afternoons and evening, they pursue academic work, which sometimes takes them off-site. One afternoon each week, they drive to Appleton to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. As part of the school’s Green Project initiative, the students help plant community gardens, clear hiking trails, visit local farms, and more. On weekends they are off on hiking and camping trips, touring college campuses, visiting museums and art galleries, and completing community service projects. In their down time, they take in the occasional movie, or go ice skating, sledding, swimming, contra dancing, rowing, bowling, or pursue morning workouts at the YMCA.

Reliable group transportation is also immensely important to the school’s Passages program for teen parents. Although Passages students receive instruction in their own homes, thereby eliminating the need to secure daily childcare and transportation in order to complete school, they still need transportation in order to attend to group workshops on everything from budgeting and smoking cessation to early literacy, child development, music, play, quilting, cooking and nutrition. These workshops allow students to develop increased academic, parenting and life skills, while also fostering community connections and alleviating the isolation that often accompanies teen parenthood.

After several weeks, the daily logistics of transporting students in a series of small second hand vehicles became overwhelming. Managing a house full of teenagers without adequate transportation was proving challenging. Fortunately, after hearing about the school’s dilemma, the Cascade Foundation generously answered the school’s wish for a new multi-passenger van with a $35,000 grant.

Staff and students were thrilled. The day the new van arrived, they piled in and drove through downtown Camden, stopping at student work sites to show off the new vehicle. Then, they decided to do what they’d been waiting a long time to do. They went to a Friday night movie, together. As students debated which movie to see on their way to the theatre, and discussed the merits of their selection on the ride home, staff was reminded just how important this informal bonding time is for students as staff alike.

In recent months, the van has taken students on tours of several colleges, including the Maine College of Art. It has helped them meet their requirements for community service, allowed them to go winter camping, and transported them to work each day. Later this month, it will take students to New York City, where they will visit sites of historical and cultural significance, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum, Chinatown, the Brooklyn Bridge, Little Italy, and Ground Zero.

Most of Wayfinder Schools’s students have never been to a large urban area and many have never travelled outside of Maine. The Cascade Foundation’s investment in these young people is providing life changing opportunities, and helping students reach their personal and academic goals, while preparing them for post-graduation success.

Most importantly, the commitment and generosity of the Cascade Foundation has reminded students that their goals, aspirations and success are worth investing in. Head of School Dr. Dorothy Foote said of the grant, “The support of The Cascade Foundation has been life changing for all of us here at the school, most importantly our students. These kids have overcome significant challenges and adversity on their road toward high school completion. This investment in their daily lives and future goals reminds them how important and valued they are in our community. The Cascade Foundation realizes the importance of investing in youth, especially underserved populations, and we can’t thank them enough for this extraordinary gift.”

Right Click Computers right match for Wayfinder Schools’ Career Exploration Program

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

One of the many things that sets Wayfinder Schools apart from its traditional counterparts is its focus on jobs and career skills. Through the school’s Career Exploration Opportunities Program, Wayfinder Schools students practice job skills like interviewing, crafting resumes, writing cover letters and completing job applications. They also work four mornings each week at part-time jobs in the community, thereby by gaining hands-on skills and real life experience they can apply to their post-graduation careers.
One of this year’s students, Everett “Ebbie” Polches of Indian Township, knew all about the jobs program, and even where he wanted to work, before he enrolled at the school. That’s because Polches’s older cousin, Tyler Sabattis, also of Indian Township, graduated from Wayfinder Schools last year, and he’d told Polches all about his own job placement, at Right Click Computers in Rockport.
“I thought it was a good idea,” Polches said. “I’ve always been into computers and electronics, and when we gave Tyler a ride home one day, he said Hutch (Right Click owner Anthony “Hutch” Hutchinson) was really cool, so I knew I might end up working here.”
Indeed, Polches now spends four mornings each week at Right Click, where he has a variety of responsibilities-everything from testing machines, recycling computer parts and restoring laptops, to less glamorous duties like taking out the garbage. Hutchinson said of Polches’s work, “He’s real reliable. He helps us out with a little of everything. He’s good at making something out of nothing and has restored one or two laptops. He’s a self-starter.”
Polches said, “I like everything about being here, and everything I’ve learned from here. I knew a lot about computers from my older brother, but this is a good way to teach me more and refresh my memory. “
Polches said he is thinking about taking a web design course, an idea Hutchinson supports. Polches said he hopes to return to the reservation after graduation, and maybe to make computer house calls or work in the tribal governor’s office.
“Everything I like is based around computers,” Polches said. “I knew I was going to get a real job when I came to the school,” he said. “I like coming to work, and yes, I think it will improve my career skills-waking up in the morning and coming to work. What I like about The C-School is we’re at school, but we’re not held captive. We’re allowed to live life and get real life experience. “
For his part, Hutchinson said he would definitely recommend the internship program to other businesses. “It’s a plus for everyone,” he said. “We’re helping each other out.” Polches agreed, and added, “Hutch is cool; he’s the man.”