Wayfinder School moving in on 45 years, after getting a solid start in Camden

Posted:  Friday, October 13, 2017 - 1:15pm

Camden – Wayfinder School, at 79 Washington Street, celebrated an open house on Thursday, October 12 with fresh hot and cold cider, apple crisp, homemade salsa, mac and cheese and other crudités. Visitors met staff and heard about updates to the Passages Program.

Paul Andrews, executive director for the school, said that Wayfinder had just begun its 80th term, and has been in existence for 45 years.

"Both our residential and Passages programs are in full swing for the school year," he said. "Everyone is getting settled in to a routine and a great start."

The school’s residential students are at Opportunity Farm in New Gloucester. The Passages students are spread from York, in southern Maine, to Washington County.

The school in Camden is now used for offices and meeting space, plus the teachers have office space there, Andrews said.

"This year, we are looking at how we can become more efficient and more effective,” he said. “We're getting ready to kick off our annual appeal, which is a major fundraiser for us."

Andrews said the school is also looking for ways to increase funding from the state, as well as from donations and foundations.

The Passages program incorporates academics, life skills and parenting skills as the program involves single teen parents.

Erica Gates, associate director of the Passages Program, said the program serves teen parents between the ages of 14 and 20.

"We're in eight counties right now and are serving 47 students," she said. "It started here in Camden and expanded to Washington County where we have a hub and another down in New Gloucester to serve the southern region."

Gates began her seven years with the school as a teacher.

"We get lots of referrals," she said. "Not like you think of a referral as in mental heath, nothing like that. Students get in situations and they get sent to us from guidance counselors, nurse practitioners or midwives. The word has spread about passages."

Wayfinder and Opportunity Farm graduated 28 students in June of 2017.