MARTHA KEMPE - HEAD OF SCHOOLS
Martha joined Wayfinder Schools in 2004. Prior to moving to Maine, Martha was Director of Grants and Contracts at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She completed a certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership from the University of Maine Orono. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon and a Master’s Degree in Expressive Therapies from the University of Louisville. Her varied life experiences include directing residential services for mentally disabled adults, coordinating educational programs at Slater Mill Historic Site, coordinating apprenticeships at the Swain School of Design, assisting grantees at the National Endowment for the Arts, and teaching reading to elementary school children. She loves seeing the creative process in action and the way it sheds light on our lives and souls. Martha’s two daughters and husband keep her guessing. Give her good books, dear friends or family scattered across the U.S. and she is happy. If not, she is content to hike Maine, explore new places or bask near any body of water…really, any body of water.
ANDREA VASSALLO - DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
Andrea joined Wayfinder Schools in 2009. A native of Massachusetts, she summered in Midcoast Maine for many years before finally moving here year-round in 1995. She holds a BA in Political Science from The University of Massachusetts and has spent her career in education and non-profit development. She lives in Damariscotta with her teenage son, their dog, Rascal, and their cat, Princess Leia. When not at Wayfinder, Andrea can be found reading, working on a crossword, and spending as much time as possible with friends and family along the Damariscotta River.
NICOLETTE SENNETT - DEVELOPMENT & HR MANAGER
Nicolette was born and raised in Maine, and calls the Greater Portland area home. After graduating from the University of Southern Maine with a BA in English, she soon found herself in the non-profit world and never looked back. Prior to joining Wayfinder Schools, Nicolette worked for various non-profits including Spurwink Services and Project Bread in Boston. Her passion for helping others is the driving force behind her work and she's excited to be part of a team that makes a difference in the lives of Maine’s youth. When not in the office, Nicolette enjoys checking out new restaurants, meeting up with friends, traveling to new places, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and dog Sadie.
Erica Gates – Director of Passages Program
Erica was born and raised in Maine. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counselor Education from The University of Maine and has spent many years working with teens in the counseling and education fields as a therapist, classroom teacher, guidance counselor, coach, swimming instructor, and raft guide. Erica has been a teacher for several years but can’t express how excited she is to be working with the staff and students at Wayfinder Schools. Erica feels this teaching opportunity will give her the opportunity to build a relationship with her students that will allow her to watch each of them grow and succeed. In her free time, Erica enjoys kayaking, hiking, skiing, sewing, and spending time with her family. One of her favorite quotes is: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
Cathy Ames-Cruz – Passages Teacher, Midcoast
Cathy has been working at Wayfinder Schools since 2000. Cathy was born in Camden, attended Camden Rockport High school, and later, studied English and Education at The University of Maine Augusta. Cathy has four children, and in 2009, she became a proud grandmother! Cathy loves working at Wayfinder Schools because she loves kids and believes everyone needs a chance in life. Cathy’s mission at Wayfinder is to help give kids the tools to be successful, and also to help make sure they are eating more than Raman Noodles when they grow up! Cathy lives in West Rockport, and when she’s not at the school, she can be found cooking, baking, or camping and swimming in the outdoors.
Dana Fadel – Passages Teacher, Southern Maine
Dana graduated from Earlham College in 2006 with a degree in African and African American Studies. She has traveled to both East and West Africa studying–among other things–textiles and the HIV/Aids epidemic. She moved to Portland in 2009 to pursue a weaving internship, where she solidified her love for teaching in a one-on-one setting. In tandem with her passion for textiles, she has maintained a strong commitment to working with people who are in need of adequate information about their health and well-being. Dana has served as a facilitator for women’s groups, an advocate for sexual assault victims, and as a sex and sexuality educator. Dana was the Health Coordinator on the Residential side of Wayfinder Schools for 2 years, as well as teaching a sex ed class called “Not Yer Momma’s Sex Ed,” a role she will continue to keep while in working with Passages.
Fern Hilyard – LEAD Passages Teacher, Washington County
Fern has a passion for education and especially enjoys the challenge of helping students discover what motivates them. She’s worked with people of all ages and abilities in a variety of settings. During the last 15 years she has pursued teaching special and gifted students, art, writing and recently spent a summer volunteering in London working with mentally ill adults in a therapeutic horticulture facility. Fern grew up in the Philadelphia area and moved to Maine with her husband in 1986 to raise their three children plus a small assortment of backyard pets. In addition to her work in education, Fern’s been a graphic designer, copy editor, dog walker, plant sitter, home-schooler, set designer, prep cook, museum docent, research assistant, school secretary and mask maker. Fern likes to knit and read and write and if you see her doodling at a meeting, it doesn’t mean she’s not paying attention.
Julia Johnston – Passages Teacher, Southern Maine
Julia Johnston came to Maine in 2016, but feels more at home here than any of the many places she has lived. 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. Teaching at Wayfinder is a welcome opportunity to combine many of her passions in one meaningful job. She is very excited to be able to work so closely with students, and watch them and their children grow and succeed. When she is not working you will find her hiking, gardening, cooking, reading, kayaking or just sitting around admiring the beauty of Maine.
Joy Knowlton – Passages Teacher, Midcoast
Joy came to Wayfinder Schools as a Passages teacher in the fall of 2013. Over the last twenty years, she has been a middle school teacher, a Special Education Tech., a GED instructor and a member of the staff of Restorative Justice of Midcoast Maine. Looking back at this varied blend of educational roles, she considers the opportunity to work with young parents in a one on one setting as a natural extension of these prior experiences. Joy is inspired by the courage and determination of her students, and is excited to be working with them as they work on Core Skills and their Passages. She hopes that some day –soon– every Maine student will be offered a blended curriculum of life skills and traditional subjects. Joy moved to Maine in 1978 to spend the summer in Bar Harbor, stayed through the winter, and eventually enrolled in College of the Atlantic. After graduating with a BA in Human Ecology, she has lived in many areas along the coast, finally settling in the Damariscotta region in the late eighties. Joy has three grown children, an older dog and a puppy, and lives in Bristol where she loves to garden, sail, swim, hike and enjoy the beauty of the area. When forced indoors, she cooks, reads, writes, and sings… while keeping up with the housework.
Cindy Stevenson – Passages Teacher, Midcoast
Cindy joined Passages in 2013. She grew up in Auburn, Maine and received her Associates Degree in Dietetics from University of Maine at Farmington. After interning with Central Maine Medical Center, where she later became an employee, she decided to continue her education at the University of Maine Orono, where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family Life/Health Education. Cindy has worked in Residential Life at UMaine Orono, as a home economist for Hannaford, as a Licensed Chiropractic Assistant, and as a Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician. She has also served on the Board of Directors at The Eastport Health Center and has always been involved with her local schools, by volunteering in her children’s classrooms, fundraising, supporting Project Graduation, and by serving as PTO President. Cindy’s greatest teachers have been her own children, Thomas 20, Jacob 18, and Benjamin 14. She and her husband Andy also share their Waldoboro home with two beautiful Golden Retrievers and six cats. Gardening, cooking, walking, and reading are some of her favorite things, and Cindy is happiest when she’s feeding the crowds and her house is full of loud music and teenage banter.