Archive for January, 2015

Hot off the Presses-our January Newsletter!

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

All our most recent news!

January 2015 News

December 2014 News

November 2014 News

October 2014 News

September 2014 News 

Meet Megan Shea, our newest Passages Teacher!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

mehan shea

As our Passages Program continues to grow in southern Maine, we are delighted to welcome our newest Passages Teacher, Megan Shea. Megan came on board this fall to help cover our expansion into York County, the realization of a longtime goal for our program. Passages, established in 1994 in the midcoast, now serves close to 60 students in Knox, Lincoln, Waldo, Washington, Sagadahoc, Androscoggin, Cumberland and York Counties.

Each Passages student is matched with a teacher who provides individualized instruction in the student’s own home, thereby eliminating the need to secure daily childcare and transportation in order to attend school.

Students work at their own pace toward the completion of 24 core skills in parenting, academics and life skills development.  Students also participate in group-workshops with other young parents and their children, and they perform volunteer projects in the community.  These workshops and projects help students build on their core skills, develop connections and job skills and reduce the isolation that can sometimes accompany teen parenthood, particularly in rural areas.

Finally, each student must complete a final graduation project or “Passage” that addresses a particular challenge or goal for that student. Recent Passages Projects have included studying automotive repair, starting a photography blog, researching nursing schools, writing a business plan, performing live music, studying to become a vet tech, designing a cookbook, learning to play guitar and many more.

Passages began its expansion beyond the midcoast in 2008, when we established our Washington County program, now housed at University of Maine in Machias. In 2011 we expanded into Sagadahoc and Androscoggin Counties, and then to Cumberland County.  Now, as we grow into York County, Passages Program Director Martha Kempe says,

Wayfinder is very excited to begin serving teen parents living in York County.  We’ve begun meeting with area schools and social services agencies to introduce Passages and provide an answer for young parents who cannot attend school or are struggling to remain enrolled while taking on their parenting responsibilities. Our goal is to be able to keep young parents in school and help them graduate so they can better support their families and reach their goals. We are thrilled to have Megan as the newest member of our Passages team.”

Megan recently completed a Master’s in teaching from Simmons College and has Massachusetts and Maine licensure in 7-12 English Language Arts. She says that in addition to “working alongside the students, their babies, and my colleagues, my favorite part of the job is the non-traditional nature of our work. My office is my car and students’ homes, they set their educational pace, and I try to facilitate and coach their learning, rather than using instruction. I’d like people to know that Passages is a very unique program, not only for Maine but nationally. Our graduates continue the hard work they’ve begun with parenthood as they are prepared for the complexities of adulthood; they don’t simply pass a test and get a piece of paper.”

You can read more about Megan, including her past jobs as a nanny, barista, canoe instructor and blacksmith (!) here:

Megan Shea

Passages serves pregnant and parenting teens ages 14-20. For more information about how to enroll in Passages, contact Admissions Coordinator Pam Simpkins at

Meet our Wayfinders: An Interview with Opportunity Farm Residential student Faith McQuatters

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

faith xmas tree  A Wayfinder Schools interview with student Faith McQuatters, Opportunity Farm

WS: What brought you to Wayfinder Schools?

FMc: I applied last year and deferred, but I feel really good about coming this year. I feel I’m in a place to succeed and focus on my schooling. I wasn’t really going to school because of personal things, but I want to go to college so I knew I needed to get my diploma somehow. I live on the same street as the school in Camden so I met with Joseph (Residential Program Director Jospeph Hufnagel) and it really clicked. I felt like it was the program for me.

WS: What have you enjoyed most about your Wayfinder Schools experience so far?

FMc: The warmness, for sure. Everybody treats me like family. A lot of people here haven’t really had that experience in their lives, and I’m not sure we all would’ve found each other in public school, but we’re all here together, connecting with each other in a diverse learning culture.

WS: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far this year?

FMc: I’ve learned to identify wild mushrooms and I’ve learned animal tracking.  Forest stuff, I love forest stuff!

WS: What’s your favorite class and why?

FMc: Poetry and creative writing. I’ve always loved poetry and creative writing. I feel like in public school I didn’t get the chance to love it the way I do here because the classes were so large.  Being able to bounce ideas off students and teachers in a small group is great.

WS: What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

FMc: Oh, that’s hard. I read a lot. I love reading. I read Rebecca recently. It’s a classic. I really liked it. 

WS: What’s your favorite meal you’ve cooked so far at school and why?

FMc: I made Reubens last week. I love cooking Thai and Korean food but Reubens were my favorite because everyone seemed to really like them and that was really cool.

WS: Where is your internship and what do you like best about it?

FMc: My internship is at The Memorial Elementary School and I like it best because I have time to give the kids the attention they need. I was in trouble in elementary school a lot–jumping on desks and getting sent to the office. You want to be able to give kids the time.  And I like singing with them because they all sing along!

WS: How did you get into music?

FMc: I’ve been singing since I was a toddler; I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I recently started playing guitar and ukulele and I’ve been in a few different bands—an all female punk band and a few blues/rock/folk bands, but mostly I write my own music. I’m hoping to record some of it someday.

WS: What kind of music do you write and what inspires you to write?

FMc: Indie-folk, bluegrass, blues, funk-folk, punk music sometimes. Everything and everywhere I go I’m inspired to write. From art to the smallest, most ordinary things…even icy sidewalks…literally everything inspires me to write.

WS: What’s been you favorite trip at Wayfinder and why?

FMc: Definitely the trip to Acadia to go rock climbing. I wimped out, but it was so beautiful. Looking out over the ocean and seeing everyone rock climbing. It was beautiful.

WS: What’s been you favorite volunteer project and why?

FMc: I liked working with AmeriCorps stacking wood. It was cool. The pile was immense and there were 40 or so people all moving together. It was so cool to work with so many people on a common goal. It felt really wonderful and it was fun.

WS: What do you hope to get out of your Wayfinder Schools experience?

FMc: Some personal direction, a deeper understanding of self and obviously my high school diploma.

WS: What are your hopes and plans for after graduation?

FMc: I want to go to college and my number school is Evergreen in Washington State. I want to study Feminism in Literature, Music and Art History.

WS: What would you like people to know about Wayfinder Schools?

FMc: I feel like a lot times alternative high school gets labeled as an easy way out, but I’ve gained so much knowledge here. A deeper understanding of subjects and introductions to things I’ve never heard of.  I’ve learned skills you can apply to real life, to cultural and social relationships, to core academics. Being here isn’t just so I can get the piece of paper-it really represents something.

WS: What would you like the world to know about you?

FMc: Rock and Roll

Fourteen facts about you:

Where you were born: South Paris, Maine

Your favorite color: Indigo

Your favorite food: Tofu Pad Thai

Your favorite sound or smell: Rain

Your favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time: Hiking

Your favorite possession: I own a lot of vintage hats. I like hats a lot.

Your favorite book or movie: 1984

Your favorite snack: Peppers and Hummus

One place you’d like to travel to: The Redwood Forest

Something you’re proud of: My work at The Memorial School

Something new you’d like to try: Hang Gliding

Who would play you in a movie: Zach Galifianakis

Your favorite spot in Maine: Maiden’s Cliff in Camden

The one thing you’re most passionate about: Social Justice

Wayfinders in the news on Martin Luther King Day

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

everyone MLK Our Camden students with their homemade signs, MLK Day 2015

Martin Luther King Day was a busy day for our Camden Wayfinders, beginning with class time in which we listened to two Martin Luther King speeches, followed by a walk downtown with our homemade signs, getting lots of cheers along the way.

Then it was off to see the movie Selma, followed by a candlelight vigil in Belfast.  Here we are, at the vigil & on the news!

And here’s what students Rose and Rakeem had to say about the day:

Rakeem: “We made our signs up and walked around Camden, and then we went to see Selma, which was a very good movie. But before that we listened to “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” which was very moving and also very bizarre because he was assassinated just hours after making that speech. Then we went to the vigil in Belfast. It was my first year going out to walk and show my appreciation. I loved it, it’s something people should do every year; it’s great.”

Rose: “It was a really fun day. First we had class, and then we were going to take our signs to Rockland, but when we brought them outside people starting beeping and waving so we decided to walk downtown instead. It was really spontaneous and fun. Then we went to see Selma.  We were all in tears.  It was really powerful. I would definitely see it again. Afterwards, we went to the candlelight vigil in Belfast which was super fun and we ended up on Fox News, which was very cool. I think the most important thing I learned was to appreciate each other, and to choose love.”

Meanwhile, our Opportunity Farm students spent the entire day at Bates, where they participated in the college’s annual Martin Luther King Day observance. This year’s theme was From Selma to Ferguson: 50 Years of Nonviolent Dissent. We started the day with lunch and a campus tour and then participated in several workshops, including those focused on Ferguson, civil rights and jazz, activism through athletics and civil rights paintings. We ended the day with a performance art piece that the students loved.  A full description of the day’s activities can be found here:

Afterwards, Opportunity Farm Lead Teacher Elisabeth Aroneau said, “They had a busy, jam-packed day and I think they appreciated looking at race relations from all these different viewpoints. They particularly enjoyed the evening performance.  Elijah served as our tour guide and they loved the campus.  We were there all day, from about noon to 10pm. A few days earlier they’d seen Selma, and they loved it.”

Here are a few more pictures from the day: erika and myranda MLK

papi and carrie MLK                                                        MLK group back hope








Starting the new year in the best possible way, with the graduation of Kiera Satele, our first graduate of 2015!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Meet our first graduate of 2015, Passages student Kiera Satele!


You may remember Kiera and her son, MJ, from our 2013 annual letter. Kiera enrolled in our Passages Program for teen parents in 2012, and now she’s our very first graduate of the new year! You can read Kiera’s full 2013 interview here:  KIERA 2013

At the time, Kiera said she enrolled in Passages because, “I wasn’t doing well in high school. I thought I would do better in a program that I could do at home. I probably wouldn’t have finished high school if I stayed in the public schools because I wouldn’t have been able to do it as a young mom… I like having one on one time with my teacher and being able to work at my own pace.  I also like that my teacher comes to my house. That has made my life less stressful in many ways. This program has given me more hope for my future. We work on setting goals. Having goals to work towards has helped me to push myself. If someone has the opportunity to enroll in the Passages Program, I would say, “do it!”

Kiera also expressed her concern that many people have misconceptions about teen parents, saying, “I also feel like a lot of people think teen moms can’t be good parents because we are young. I put my child first and make better decisions since my son, MJ, was born. I love being a parent. It has helped me to grow up a lot and mature. I now have my priorities straight.”

This topic later became the theme of Kiera’s final Passages graduation project, described here by Kiera’s teacher Stephanie Whiting:

“This project came about because Kiera feels that young mothers are judged based on their age, instead of their ability to parent. It is very important to her to get the word out to people that it is possible to be a loving, dedicated mother, even though you are young.  Kiera shared her message with a group of students between the ages of 12-14 at Tree Street Youth Center.  She chose to present to this age group because she wanted to not only share her message, but also to explain the realities, joys, and challenges of being a young parent. The students had many questions and engaged in deep conversation with Kiera. They left with the understanding that it isn’t always easy to parent at a young age.”

kiera at tree street Here’s Kiera presenting her Passages Project, entitled A Mother’s Message, at Tree Street Youth. You can read more about Kiera’s Passage here: Kiera’s Passage

And now, after completing her 24 core requirements and her final Passage, Kiera received her diploma earlier this month!

stephanie and kiera Kiera receiving her diploma from her teacher, Stephanie Whiting

Here’s what Stephanie had to say about the big day:

“I began working with Kiera in the fall of 2012. Over the past two years, I have had the great pleasure of watching Kiera grow into a confident, responsible young woman. Instead of running away from a challenging situation, Kiera now figures out what steps she can take to overcome the difficulty and then faces the challenge head on!! What was most exciting about her Final Passage Presentation was to see that she, herself had recognized how much she had grown since beginning the program.

Kiera is a loving and dedicated mother. I am so proud of her. During her time in the Passages Program, she parented 2 young children and worked part time, while meeting with me consistently and completing her school -work. Kiera worked incredibly hard to complete the 24 core skills that our program requires as well as her Final Passage, despite many difficult situations arising in her personal life.  She will continue to be involved in the Passages Program in the future, by mentoring our students and serving as a role model for our other young parents.

Kiera had a full time job opportunity waiting for her upon graduating from our program and she plans to attend college in the near future. I have no doubts that she will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.”

And here’s what Kiera had to say!:

“My experience in the Passages Program was wonderful. Even though I had some struggles here and there, I am definitely glad I got to be a part of it. My final Passage Project helped me to notice my potential, gave me strength to overcome my fears, and I learned how to stay focused and not give up when times get rough.

This program meant a lot to me because I don’t think I would have pushed myself if I were in public school. If it wasn’t for this program, I honestly don’t think I would have graduated with my diploma. Having two little kids and having to balance the other things that are important, is definitely hard. The teachers in the Passages Program work with you. Everything is at YOUR OWN pace, nothing has to be rushed, and you get one on one time with your teacher. That’s what I liked most about the program. I recommend this home visiting program to other young mothers because the program is great.”

Kiera is one of over 15 Passages students who will graduate this year. We hope you’ll join us for our full graduation ceremonies this spring!

Our Washington County Passages graduation will be: May 30th, 1 p.m., UMaine Machias
Our Midcoast Passages graduation will be:  June 6th, 2p.m., Rockland Unitarian Church 
Our Opportunity Farm Passages graduation will be: June 7th, 2p.m., Opportunity Farm 

In the meantime, please join us in congratulating our very first 2015 graduate, Kiera Satele!







Meet our Wayfinders: An Interview with Camden Residential student Rose Piscuskas

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

rose and cliff   A Wayfinder Schools interview with student Rose Piscuskas, Camden

WS: What made you decide to come to Wayfinder Schools?

RP: I had a hard time with public school, so I started home schooling, but because both my parents work, I couldn’t get as much support as I needed. I had the drive to keep learning but I needed a little more direction. My family knows Dora (Community School co-founder Dora Lievow) and she suggested coming here, so I did some research and decided, “That’s where I’m going next year.”

WS: What have you enjoyed most about your Wayfinder Schools experience so far?

RP: Everything. The support and the diversity and the relationships I’ve been building here. It’s pretty incredible. Being forced to live with people who are so different than you is incredibly hard, but one of the best experiences I’ve had so far.

WS: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far this year?

RP: Everything is interesting.  Learning about the college process is what I’ve enjoyed most. Evergreen is my first choice.  I’m also looking at Bennington, Earlham, New College in Florida, Cornell College (not the university), Southern Oregon University and Warren Wilson.

WS: What’s your favorite class and why?

RP: I’d say my favorite class is Diversity and Social Justice. I like that we talk about really current issues and that they’re things I can get behind.  Not like past text books-the same stuff our parents learned. I like being in the loop and being encouraged to think critically about the world.

WS: What’s the favorite meal you’ve cooked so far at school and why?

RP: I made crepes recently and that was really fun. It was something my mom had always cooked for me at home for special occasions and it was nice to do something special for the people here. It felt family-like.

WS: Where is your internship and what do you like best about it?

RP: My internships are at The Riley School and Merry Gardens. My work at Riley has given me an opportunity to speak up, even as an intern, and express my views. It’s been a really big growing experience for me. At my Merry Gardens internship I’m really enjoying learning how to work with older people.  It’s way outside my comfort zone but also kind of fun.  I get to sit and talk with them and I hope it’s helpful for them to have the energy and spontaneity of a teenager.

WS: What’s been you favorite trip at Wayfinder and why?

RP: They progressively get better because the group is tighter, but my favorite so far was camping and rock climbing at Acadia. I love camping. I also liked the Boston trip a lot.

WS: What’s been you favorite volunteer project and why?

RP: I’d say working at Merry Gardens. It makes me feel like I’m at home again. I grew up on a farm, and feeling like I know what I’m doing is pretty valuable.

WS: What do you hope to get out of your experience at Wayfinder Schools?

RP: To carry the relationship building skills that I’ve gained here with me.  Really everything I’ve gained here. It’s just so much. The diploma is definitely part of it but to me it’s more about the relationships. Just making sure I carry everything I’ve learned here into future life.

WS: What are your hopes and plans for after graduation?

RP: College. I’m hoping to follow my interests and act on some of my whims. I feel that I’m finally at an age when I can do that.  And then graduate school for alternative education. I’d like to teach middle school, and I want to reach people who want to learn.

WS: What would you like people to know about Wayfinder Schools?

I would like students to know it’s NOT the easy way out. I thought that way, too, only one year for a diploma, but it’s not easy. Also, my parents and I didn’t know how hard it was going to be emotionally, so for parents I would say just knowing that your child has to be in a stable place emotionally to make it.  What I would like community members to know is that the school has changed a lot. True, we are rambunctious teenagers, but it’s important to me that we work WITH the community. I want community members to say, ”Hey, I did this awesome thing with Wayfinder last year.”

WS: What would you like the world to know about you?

I’m always looking for opportunities to have an adventure.

Thirteen facts about you:

Where you were born: Waterville  

Your favorite color: Green. A very natural green.

Your favorite food: Salad. It’s always so interesting.

Your favorite sound or smell: Sitting around a campfire, people talking, the fire crackling, smelling the wood smoke and remnants of dinner; it’s the best feeling in the whole entire world.

 Your favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time:  Play my violin and paint and write–journaling and writing letters.

Your favorite possession: The violin that I made.

Your favorite book or movie: Favorite books: Anne of Green Gables, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Harry Potter, and This is your Brain on Music by David Levitan. Favorite movie: Whiplash.

 Your favorite snack: Cherry tomatoes or cookies

One place you’d like to travel to: I’d like to go back to Paris.  And I’d like to go to Australia and Germany.

Something you’re proud of: Teaching last year at The Mill School, and the college process. Last year I taught music to twenty students age 4-13 at The Mill School. I came up with the curriculum and they approved my first draft. The kids played kazoo, accordion, piano, guitar, cello, mandolin, whistle and even pots and pans. We had five months to prepare an end of year concert and it was amazing.

Something new you’d like to try: Traveling more

Your favorite spot in Maine: Hoag Island on Lake St. George

The one thing you’re most passionate about: Teaching












Passages student Zoe Baxter, in the news!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Zoe Baxter first baby of 2015 MVNO