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!


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


2016 Graduate Breanna Moody to speak at March 16 Open House

Posted on Wednesday February 1, 2017

Wayfinder graduate Breanna Moody will speak at the Feb. 9 Open House. She is pictured here with Passages Teacher Erica Gates.  Breanna and her teacher, Erica Gates

2016 Graduate Breanna Moody will speak at our MARCH 16 (new date!) Open House in Camden. Here’s a speech Breanna made last year, about her experience as a teen mom.

What if one moment in your life dictated the rest of your life? What if the decision you made could haunt you or bring joy to you for the rest of your life? What if regardless of that decision, your life suddenly became harder? I am a teen mother. I am 19 years old and the mother of a happy and healthy one year old. I am not getting into a debate on abortion, because I made a personal decision. This story is what happened when I made that decision.

Yes, I just said I am a happy mother. Let’s go behind the scenes on what it takes to be happy. It just doesn’t appear one day, it has to be earned. It takes blood, sweat, and tears, and an enormous amount of work, energy and sleepless nights to get this way. I made the right decision, but everyone needs to know that being a teen parent is harder than you think.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was a junior in high school. All my priorities consisted of getting through the next year and worrying about who I was going to be after high school. But suddenly, all of those worries seemed so small. When I told my mother I was pregnant, she wouldn’t talk to me for days. She didn’t look at me, she wouldn’t acknowledge that I was in the room anymore or answer me when I was talking. Eventually, I came to realize that my mom’s biggest fear was me failing to succeed. Would I be able to do that with a baby?

I had some work to do. I 
had to prove my mom wrong.
 I had to prove myself right.
 More importantly, I had to
ensure this precious little
human had all of her needs met. I wasn’t going to fail my baby. I’m not going to fail my baby. Being a teen parent takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The toll it takes on relationships, family and friends is harder than you can ever believe.

When my daughter was two months old, I found out her father was cheating on me. I remember being so scared and hurt because I thought he wanted to try to be a family as much as I did. I remember him telling me that he didn’t choose this and being a dad wasn’t what he wanted. He wasn’t ready to be a dad so young. I remember crying many nights because I wasn’t ready to be a mother at 17 either, but no matter what I had to take responsibility. He made the choice not to stay, and I couldn’t make him. I wouldn’t have left, but I’m not sure I had a choice.

Something they never admit to you in high school is that nothing stays the same forever. Sometimes change is for the better, and sometimes it will tear you apart, but you can’t change it. Being a teen parent is a series of changes, and learning to deal with them is part of growing as a person and a parent.

One of those changes includes responsibility. If you’re anything like me as a teen, your mom took you to your doctor’s appointments until you were 16 and bought you feminine products because you were too embarrassed. But when my daughter was just two weeks old, she became really sick. Of course, being a new parent I didn’t know what to do. I had never had this kind of responsibility before, and all of the sudden it was up me to take care of a little baby that I created. I was beyond scared.

Where were my answers? Where was my support? Where is the easy part of all of this? 1 night in the hospital can change your whole outlook. I needed help. I worked hard to gain the trust and respect back from my family and friends. But being a teen parent is harder than you think, and you don’t always have the support you will desire.

I had some work to do. I worked hard at educating myself on how to take care of a child. I had to become responsible to balance work, life and school. I joined Wayfinder Schools in Passages Program, which became a new support system and a path to success. I constantly balance my schedule around being there for my child, providing for my child, and making myself a productive member of society.

Today’s discussion isn’t a debate on teen pregnancy. It’s not even a talk about decision making. I’m past that. Today is about thinking. Today is about the emotional toll teen pregnancy has on not just the mother, but the father, family and friends. My child and I will grow to be successful, but it is not going to be easy. If I could give any advice to teens who are sexually active, I would say to think. Think about how your actions not only affect you, but everyone around you. Think about what you are giving up and what you are gaining when you are having unprotected sex. Think about your education and goals, and what they mean to you. Having a baby is not a burden, nor is it a mistake, but it can be prevented when you are not ready. Because being a teen parent is harder than you think.

Being in the Passages program has been a wonderful experience for me and Hadley. The support is amazing and all of the staff help you to succeed in any way they can. Before I started this program, I wasn’t sure that I could get the education I needed to be successful, but having people behind you to push you and that believe in you really is an amazing thing. This program has helped me become a productive member of society, become a better mother and a better person overall. I have been involved in the Lullaby Project, have attended many workshops and volunteered thought this program, and I am so thankful to be apart of such an amazing experience.

I want to say thank you to my teacher, Erica Gates, and all of the other wonderful staff who have helped me not only reach my goals, but to go above and beyond what I could ever have dreamed. I also want to thank Erica for the help with transportation and being there when I needed someone most.

Congratulations class of 2016, WE DID IT!

Passage Project: Public Speaking

Breanna worked with a professional public speaker, Tom Dowd, to learn more about what makes effective and memorable speech. She learned about eye contact, gestures, and pacing. Breanna wrote a speech about her experience as a teen parent, emphasizing for teens to think about the consequences before they have unprotected sex. She gave a final presentation, with time for questions and answers, to the class at Zenith Alternative School, in Camden Hills.

Our trip to Chewonki

Posted on Wednesday February 1, 2017

alyssa  joclany  reny 3  reny cow  devon  ljoclany 2
Alyssa, Joclany, Reny and Devon feeding the chickens and milking the cows at Chewonki


2015 Grad Skye Green featured in Quoddy Tides!

Posted on Monday January 16, 2017

A wonderful article about 2015 graduate Skye Green and her participation in Maine’s 2016 National Education for Women’s Leadership Conference.


Click on the link below, and then again on the smaller link, to read all about it!

Skye Green


New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

Posted on Thursday December 29, 2016

Happy New Year!

This year we celebrated New Year’s traditions from around the world, including the Puerto Rican tradition of washing away the old year by throwing a bucket of water out the window, and the Chinese tradition of tossing coins for good luck. Check out the full list of traditions we researched (below).

serenity  pennies-on-floor

devin more-pennies



  • FIRST TO CELEBRATE: Samoa & Kiribati
  • LAST TO CELEBRATE: Baker Island & Howland Island
  • Kiribati Tribute: Lighting of Universal Fire
  • The practice of making New Year’s resolutions, said to have begun with the Babylonians as early as 2600 B.C., is another way to reflect on the past and plan ahead.
  • Resolutions: It is believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, and people all over the world have been breaking them ever since. The early Christians believed the first day of the new year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in the new year.
  • Germany and Austria: Molten lead is traditionally used to read the future. The lead is poured into a bowl of water and the various shapes formed by the lead are indications for the year ahead. A ball means luck across the year, an anchor foretells eventual need of help, while a cross spells death.  Lead pouring is an old practice that uses molten lead like tea leaves. Molybdomancy is an ancient technique of divination that involves interpreting the shapes formed by dropping melted lead into cold water. A small amount of lead is melted in a tablespoon (by holding a flame under the spoon) and then poured into a bowl of cold water.  The resulting shape of the lead is interpreted to predict the coming year. For instance, if the lead forms a ball, it means luck will roll your way. The shape of an anchor means help in time of need. A heart or ring shape means a wedding, a ship means a journey, and a pig means plenty of food in the year ahead. Lead pouring is also popular in Finland.
  • Mexico and Chile:In Mexico, New Year’s Eve is considered the best time to communicate with dead spirits and convey messages, or ask for guidance. Chileans have a similar practice and set up chairs beside the graves of loved ones to bring in the new year together with their departed relatives and friends.
  • Guto Nyth Bran of Wales: Pass a candle or torch around and then lay down a commemorative wreath in honor of Guto.  Afterwards, boil a kettle and run around the house as fast as you can as the kettle whistles.
  • In Costa Rica, the packing suitcases and the sharing of dreams is intended to conjure the desire to travel well and often
  • Puerto Ricans and Cubans literally wash away the old year by throwing buckets of water out the window.
  • People in Italy also discard unwanted items out window.
  • Japan: Men vs. Women Sing-Off/Haiku-Off
  • Poland: Musical performances inspired by the legendary life of St. Sylvester
  • Singapore: Floating Wishes & Spirit Boats
  • To start the year with a clean slate, people in Ecuador and Mexico burn unpleasant thoughts, portraits, or memories before midnight to eliminate negative feelings from the past year.
  • In Hungary, an effigy or scapegoat known as Straw Jack, which represents the evils and misfortunes of the past year, is carried around the village and burned on New Year’s Eve
  • In Singapore, jumping up high is believed to cause a growth spurt.
  • In various Latin American countries, people wear bright colored clothing on New Years with the hope that doing so will bring them good luck in the coming year
  • Folks in the Philippines often wear circular patterns (like polka dots) with the hope that doing so will bring them prosperity in the coming year
  • Greece: An extra place is set at the table for St. Basil. An onion is hung on the front door — alongside a pomegranate that has been hanging there since Christmas — as a symbol of rebirth and growth. Around midnight the lights are turned off and the family goes outside. The pomegranate is given to one person who smashes it against the door as the clock strikes midnight.
  • Romania: In the past, people would throw old personal effects out the windows and smash plates, glasses, vases and other pottery against the ground to drive away bad spirits.
  • Jews who observe Rosh Hashanah make time for personal introspection and prayer, as well as visiting graves.
  • SCOTLAND:  coal, shortbread and silverware are exchanged for good luck
  • Wales:  People celebrate Calennig, which means New Years in Welsh. The celebration traditionally is a time to give gifts to family, friends and neighbors. Today it is customary to give cheese and bread on New Years morning.
  • Netherlands: The Dutch burn bonfires of Christmas trees on the street and launch fireworks. The fires are meant to purge the old and welcome the new.
  • China (and many other prosperous countries) set off fireworks
  • Ecuador:Ecuadorians celebrate the new year by gathering and burning portraits or something else that represents the previous year as a way to get rid of the past. Thousands of these fires light up the country on New Year’s Eve.
  • Mexico: To start the year with a clean slate, people write a list of all the unhappy events that happened during the year, then throw the list into a fire before midnight to eliminate the negative feelings of the past year.
  • Hungary:  An effigy or scapegoat known as Jack Straw, which represents the evils and misfortunes of the past year, is carried around the village, then burned on New Year’s Eve.
  • Cuba: Throw a bucket of water out front door and open up window/door at midnight
  • Denmark: The Danish throw their old plates at their friends’ and neighbors’ doors as a sign of good luck and friendship. Cleaning up isn’t much of a bother because the higher the stack the more friends one has. The Danes also leap off chairs at midnight to banish bad spirits from the New Year.  Denmark: It is a good sign to find your doorstep heaped with a pile of broken dishes on New Year’s Day. Old dishes are saved all year to throw at friends’ homes on New Year’s Eve. Lots of broken dishes is a sign that you have many friends.
  • England: Traditional gifts are coal for the fire, a loaf for the table and a drink for the master. For good luck, the guest should enter through the front door and leave through the back door. Guests who are empty handed are not allowed to enter first.  The English followed the custom of cleaning their chimneys on New Year’s Day to bring good luck to the household for the coming year. The expression “cleaning the slate” came from this custom.
  • Japan: On New Year’s Day, the Japanese give money to children in a tradition known as otoshidama. The money is put in small, decorated envelopes called pochibukuro
  • New York City: Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the dropping of the New Year ball in Times Square, New York City, at 11:59 M. Thousands gather to watch the ball make its one-minute descent, arriving exactly at midnight. The tradition first began in 1907. The original ball was made of iron and wood; the current ball is made of Waterford Crystal, weighs 1,070 pounds, and is six feet in diameter
  • Around midnight in Greece, the lights are turned off and the family goes outside. The pomegranate is giving to one person who smashes it as the clock strikes midnight.
  • At midnight, Buddhist temples ring a bell 108 times.
  • Hong Kong: Start counting down at 60
  • The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight comes from Spain. At midnight, Spaniards try to consume a grape at each chime before the clock stops chiming to bring in the new year.  Each grape is a wish.  This 12 grapes of luck tradition has been carried over to other countries, like Mexico, Peru, and Singapore.  In Peru, the 13th grape must be eaten to ensure good luck.
  • Singapore:  To increase wealth for the coming year and jumping up high which is believed to cause a growth spurt.
  • People dance around the table with instruments
  • Italians – bells
  • Swiss – drums
  • Philippines:Those hoping for more money in the new year can try the Filipino tradition of dressing in clothes with circular patterns like polka dots and eating circular food like grapes. The circular shape echoes the shape of coins and is meant to bring prosperity in the new year.
  • In Mexico, people decorate their homes with different colors of things they want in the new year. Red is for love, green is for money and yellow is for work.
  • South America:People wear bright underwear to bring them good luck in the new year. Those looking for love opt for red while those seeking fortune wear yellow.


In China and the Philippines, circles and coins are thrown into a bucket for good luck.

    • Japan:  Giving money or coins to children is considered to bring good luck
    • The round symbol goes back to coins, which is signifies prosperity.
    • Another tradition includes throwing coins at midnight, to increase wealth
  • Brooklyn, New York: Bang Pots and Pans at Midnight
  • New Gloucester, Maine:
    • Sunset Salutations: The first wishes of the New Year
    • The Midnight Kiss:An old classic that is celebrated across the world is sharing a kiss with your sweetheart in order to ensure love and friendship in the upcoming year



  • Rice promises prosperity in India and Pakistan
  • Deep South:  A traditional southern New Year’s dish is called Good Luck Hoppin’ Johns —black eyed peas and ham hocks, and there’s an old saying goes, “Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year.”
  • In the southern United States, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune.
  • Collard Greens are commonly served on New Year’s Eve in places like Mississippi
  • Sausage Balls are a traditional New Year’s dish in Poland
  • In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floor and allowed to remain there
  • Pretzels are thought to represent togetherness and limitlessness in France
  • Lentil Soup: The lentil signifies wealth in Brazil and is believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
  • Japan:  Sometimes, at around 11 p.m. a bowl of noodles is eaten for the last time in the year.
  • Rosca de Reyes (Mexican sweet breads) are baked with a charm or coin hidden in the dough. Whoever receives the slice with the coin or charm is said to be blessed with good luck for the New Year.  Similar traditions in which objects are hidden within various deserts also take place in France, Norway, and Greece.
  • Greece: New Year’s day is also the Festival of  Basil, one of the founders of the Greek Orthodox Church. One of the traditional foods served is Vassilopitta, or St Basil’s cake. A silver or gold coin is baked inside the cake. Whoever finds the coin in their piece of cake will be especially lucky during the coming year.
  • China:  Eating any ring-shaped treats (such as a donut) symbolize “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune.
  • Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah tradition.
  • Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the new year in Rome.
  • Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by the Persians.
  • FRANCE: The pretzel is a symbol of Alsace, and is popular throughout the year, but especially at holiday time. Pretzels are thought to represent togetherness, limitlessness, luck and blessings. It is said that one can view the divine star three times through the openings in the pretzel.
    • The traditional salted pretzel is the year-round standard, but on New Year’s Eve a sweet pretzel made of brioche dough is a ritual gift from a young man to his lady love. On New Year’s Day, grandparents give sweet pretzels to their grandchildren.
    • Brazil: The lentil signifies wealth, so on the first day of the new year, Brazilians serve lentil soup or lentils and rice.
    • France: A special New Year’s bread, Vassilopita, is baked with a coin hidden in the dough. The first slice is for the Christ child; the second for the father of the household, and the third slice is for the house. If the third slice holds the coin, spring will come early that year.
    • Norway: Norwegians prepare rice pudding with one almond hidden inside. The person whose serving contains the lucky almond is assured wealth in the coming year.
  • The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight comes from Spain.
  • Spain:At midnight, Spaniards try to consume a grape at each chime before the clocks stops chiming to bring in the new year. The “12 grapes of luck” tradition has been carried over to other Spanish-influenced countries like Mexico, the US and the Philippines.
    • At midnight, Mexicans eat a grape with each chime at midnight. Each grape is a wish
  • In Peru, a 13th grape must be eaten to assure good luck.
  • Italy: Lenticchie (lentils) are believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
  • Italy: Cotechino is a savory pork sausage that contains lo zampone, a pig’s foot, and is a symbol of abundance.





Homemade Gifts!

Posted on Thursday December 29, 2016

Another wonderful holiday celebration full of homemade gifts (our tradition here at Wayfinder).

This year students and staff exchanged original artwork, a homemade sign, a colorful banner, a lot of baked goods and even an original song!

Check out the photos below. Warm holiday wishes from all of us at Wayfinder Schools!

     kay  jos-song

devin  jen

joclany  neal-2

crystal cynthia





Happy Holidays from Wayfinder Schools!

Posted on Thursday December 22, 2016

Staff & students ring in the season at Opportunity Farm!

alissa jen-and-cathie the-girls   joclany-jacket-2   serenity jos reny sean-joclany ian-sean joclany

Thank you for all your wonderful support this year! Happy New Year from Wayfinder Schools!

Happy Holidays from Wayfinder Schools!

Posted on Thursday December 22, 2016

Scenes from our Washington County Passages Holiday Party

snowman  present-2    cupcake-decorating

15590087_574760502732995_7347937828540269730_n  sockmen 

cupcake  fern-and-baby  boy-and-mom  boy  girls-cards  crossword  15578412_574760512732994_675299603600722507_n boy-and-mom-2 plate  present-4 present-3 present-5