Sunday, January 31st, 2016
Just happened upon this old thing I wrote from my time working at Wayfinder Schools. I was working my usual Saturday shift at the Wayfinder School in Camden, ME, an alternative residential high school. It was a cold winter day, some of us were in a bit of a funk, and I knew we had to get out and do something. After a bit of cajoling, I marched out the door with three of my students in tow. We were off to climb Mt. Battie, a nearby hill. I was proud to have finally gotten my students out of the stale air of the house and into the freezing elements. I was going to toughen them up and show them what a real adventure looked like.
It was a hard trudge up the path and yet these kids, Carlos, Emily, and Mitch, were real troopers– not a word of complaint passed their lips. Mitch led us off the trail for a bit of icy scrambling. After a good hour of that, I was satisfied with our hike. They had proven themselves in my eyes.
“Alright guys, what do you say we head back? This has been fun!” I said. I didn’t want to keep these guys out there too long. Also, my hands were cold, the gray sky was darkening, and the prospect of a cup of hot tea with honey was growing increasingly appealing.
“No, not yet,” said Emily, “We have to build a fort.”
Mitch and Carlos nodded in agreement. I was outnumbered. The team got to work. Emily, Chief Engineer, carefully placed the sturdy sticks that Carlos, Director of Materials, gathered. I stood idly by, nursing my frosty digits while they worked with efficiency.
“Hey, Ethan, could you help me with this?” Mitch was wrenching a mighty log up from the ice. I didn’t want to help. I was cold. I wanted to go home! “Do I have to?” I heard myself say–dangerously close to whining. I reluctantly grabbed the other end of the log and we hoisted it up together. Carlos was nice enough to attribute my no-can-do attitude to my plummeting body temperature. He traded gloves with me. “Your gloves don’t seem to have much insulation in them,” he said, “Here. Take mine.” Soon enough, an impressive shelter stood before us. Emily pulled a pole-less tent out of her bag and draped it over the structure. “Okay, let’s go in!” she said, “Ethan should go in the middle. He’s cold.”
Once we were all huddled in there, Mitch drew from his pocket the single source of sustenance we brought–a starfruit. We shared it, passing it around. And it was then that I had two important realizations. Firstly, though starfruit is, in my opinion, only a mildly tasty fruit, when a person is cold, tired, and wedged between teenagers on top of a mountain, it’s pretty darned delicious. And secondly, my students, though they may seem lazy and uninspired at times, have enormous potential. That day, they scaled icy rocks with grit. They took care of me when I was cold and complaining. They worked cooperatively and ambitiously on a shelter that I have no doubt is still standing today. And they knew how to appreciate a peaceful moment, passing around a starfruit without a word as the wind blew through the trees. I set out that afternoon to teach them what a real adventure looked like. They ended up teaching me.
The crew on another one of their outdoor adventures. Carlos (front row) and Mitch (back row) are both wearing glasses. Emily is in the front left, wearing a red vest. All three graduated in 2014. Ethan, back left, now lives in New York.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
Reserve your court time at Midcoast Recreation Center on March 5 and support Wayfinder Schools at the same time.
A win for everyone!
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
by Victoria Demmons
South Thomaston, ME
It all started when we were just babies. My sister always ruined my fun. It’s like it made her happy to see me sad. She used to hit me, tell me to stand up under an electric horse fence because it “wouldn’t hurt.” We were always fighting, always yelling about this or that, if she was wearing my clothes or I was wearing hers. It didn’t change until I was about ten and she was eleven. Yes, we still occasionally fought like all sisters do, but it wasn’t as bad. We spent more time together, told each other little things. Then I turned twelve and chose the wrong paths to go down.
I was depressed, I ran away all the time, and would never want to go back home. It didn’t feel like home. With my depression, I chose to drink and start smoking pot like all my “friends” were doing. There were times when I would wake up and not know where I was. When I was twelve I met who I thought was the “love of my life.” I started running away, to him. Drank, with him. Smoked, with him. He was bad for me but I couldn’t see it. I was blinded by how I thought I had to be, to see who I really was. My sister told me he was no good for me. But I didn’t listen. A year later our relationship started to change. It wasn’t new anymore. He was always mad, always yelling and calling me names, I thought it was normal. I was only thirteen. I left for nights to stay with him without telling my mom, she was always worried.
Right before I turned fourteen I found out the reason why my relationship had felt so distant was because he was cheating on me with my “best friend.” He apologized and said how it would never happen again. I forgave him.
Months later, I started feeling sick. I was staying home from school. I finally asked my mom if she would take me to the hospital because I thought I had appendicitis. Well it wasn’t that…I found out that day that I was nine weeks pregnant. I cried while the person I had let down the most sat there and held my hand – my mom. Later that day when my sister got home from school, she walked through the front door and I burst into tears. I told her, and she sat with me and she told me that everything would be ok.
A week after I found out that I was pregnant, my relationship ended. Ever since that day, it has been my sister by my side, picking me up when I fall, and there to tell me it will ALWAYS be ok. Even when it’s not. Still to this day. I am sixteen and my son is a year old. My sister is my idol and my biggest support along with my mother.
Friday, January 8th, 2016
Meet Nikki-Wayfinder of the Week 1-7-16!
Nikki is a June 2014 graduate of our Passages Program for young parents. She is the proud mom of Maximus, age 2, and Heavenly, age 4 months.
WS: How did you hear about Wayfinder Schools?
NDH: I was 17 and attending Lewiston High School when I learned I was pregnant. I’d been kicked out at the time, so Mary Seaman, the homeless youth liaison, told me about Wayfinder.
WS: What was the most challenging part?
NDH: My first baby, Lily, passed away. After Lily passed away, I went back to the program, but I’d been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Being around other people was really hard. I wanted to disappear. Luckily I had a good support system, and my teacher Katy. She’s the best teacher ever.
WS: What was the most helpful part of the program?
NDH: Everything. I liked meeting up with the other moms so I didn’t feel so alone. I liked learning new things. I think my favorite was the infant massage class where we learned how to help babies with colic. This really helped me with Max.
WS: In what other ways did Passages help with parenting, and balancing parenting with school work?
NDH: Max got playtime with other kids and he liked Katy a lot. Katy felt like a different mom. She was almost like a friend but she really pushed me to get my work done. I couldn’t thank her enough.
WS: What’s the most interesting thing you learned in the Passages Program?
NDH: Probably the practical life skills, like budgeting. Budgeting and nutrition. I still use the things I learned then.
WS: Did you have a favorite volunteer project or field trip?
NDH: We went to visit some seniors who really enjoyed having us visit and I liked going to the Auburn food bank and learning about how that works.
WS: What was your favorite book you read for Passages?
NDH: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult. We had a free read so I read that and wrote an essay about it. It was sort of a cross between fairy tale and reality. I connected with it a lot.
WS: What would you like people to know about the challenges of young parenthood, or parenthood in general?
NDH: It’s really difficult. One thing–if they’re crying you just have to take a deep breath and walk out of the room for a minute. It’s really hard but you’ve just got to do it.
WS: What are your hopes and dreams for your kids?
NDH: That they will go far someday and be successful and all of it. That they’ll be good people.
WS: Can you tell me a bit about your Passages graduation project?
NDH: I was running a crafts business at the time, Busy Bee Crafts, and my photography business. So I participated in Lewiston’s Y-Not?, where you get to meet people and learn about other businesses. I learned a lot about running a business-there’s a lot to it! That was huge for me, my whole Passage Project, I took a lot away from that, learning from other businesses, getting out and meeting new people.
WS: How did you feel on graduation day?
NDH: Oh my gosh. I was so happy but really sad at the same time because I wanted to stay part of the program. It was the only thing I did for myself. I really miss it.
WS: What have you been doing since graduation?
NDH: We got married and we got a new rental house on some big land, which is nice. I’m a stay at home mom and my husband works at Irving. I still have my photography business. I did really well this year. I had to sell my old camera to pay some bills but I’m getting a new one, an upgrade.
WS: What would you like people to know about Wayfinder Schools?
NDH: It’s an awesome program. I got a lot out of it emotionally. I’ve learned a lot. My favorite part was learning things you can take out of school-practical things-nutrition, first aid. It was definitely a good emotional thing for me after I lost Lily. It helped me get through.
WS: What would you like people to know about you?
NDH: I’m glad I went to the program. I’m a good mom and I try to do everything I can for my kids.
Fourteen Facts about you
Where do you live? Rumford
Favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time: I crochet at night after the kids go to sleep. Blankets, everything.
Favorite spot in Maine: Bethel
Favorite book? Lord of the Rings
Favorite movie? Lord of the Rings
Dream job: Photographer
Kind of photography you like to take: Maternity, kids, family.
One of your favorite photo shoots? The 2015 Passages graduation. It was nice to see everyone, Martha, Katy, all the teachers. I was always up for helping and being part of the program. It’s really rewarding, that whole experience, I really hope I can continue to help.
Favorite family meal: Biscuits and gravy
Favorite band: Pink Floyd
One place you’d like to travel to: Oregon. I hear they have great lightening storms!
Favorite thing to do with your kids: Probably Legos with Max.
Your kids’ favorite book: The Owl Baby. Max is actually named after Max from Where the Wild Things Are, but the funny thing is he won’t sit through that whole book!
Something you’re proud of: Being a mom
You can check out Nicole’s photography here
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
Autumn Berry’s Blog
December 13th to December 18th