Breakwater truly is a place where “everybody knows your name.” Our small, intimate setting enables us to be a tight-knit community that fosters a culture of belonging, accountability, and support. Older children look out for younger peers on the playground, the Director of Admissions takes a turn supervising recess, and the Head of School often acts as crossing guard, welcoming kids safely to school. Our teachers’ in-depth understanding of each child’s developmental needs and family background enables them to partner with parents to offer a personalized learning experience for each student within the flexible yet structured curriculum.

Our school-home partnership is integral to the Breakwater community. Our parents—and often grandparents and extended family members—are highly invested in their children’s educations and actively involved in school activities, from volunteering in the classroom and chaperoning field trips to assisting with events and serving on the Board of Trustees. All parents are members of the Breakwater Parent Connection, and many participate in ways that best suit their schedules, interests, and areas of expertise.

Our multi-age classrooms and emphasis on cooperative learning also contribute to our strong sense of community. Two additional programs, both unique and central to the Breakwater experience, dovetail to enhance our school community. Our Social/Emotional curriculum is integrated into daily school life at every grade level and is aimed at developing and honing social and executive function skills, such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, and self-management. Our complementary Outdoor Adventure Program builds community and encourages teamwork, laying the foundation for ongoing group support, personal risk-taking, and individual growth.

Breakwater’s ties to the greater Portland community are deep and rich with engaging experiential learning opportunities. As students mature through our program, they become increasingly immersed in community field work that solidifies their learning through meaningful, first-hand experience. In the educational community, Breakwater serves as a teaching practicum site for early childhood education students at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and for art education students at the Maine College of Art (MECA). The School also plays a leadership role in the Portland Area Reggio Collaborative (PARC) and is a founding partner for the collaborative Nason’s Corner Park Greening Project.

Above all, we are a community of diverse individuals who are united and inspired by a mutual love of learning, appreciation of nature and the arts, and respect for diversity, individuality, and the sanctity of childhood.  


Community Service Projects

Backpacks for Refugees

Each year, Breakwater's staff and students lead a community service project for the Refugee Resettlement Program (RRP). It's called Backpacks for Refugees, and it is a project that has helped hundreds of refugee children starting school in Maine by assembling backpacks of basic school supplies.

Every spring, teachers work with students to brainstorm ideas of what might go into these backpacks, what any child might need to start school in Maine. Students work together either in buddy teams or as a whole group, and come up with their own lists. Each group must choose a project that individualizes their backpacks. Some choose to add their own ABC books, puzzles, zipper pulls, greeting cards, decorated water bottles, or other fun items. The thought is to give each child a special touch that personalizes their new pack.

Once a complete list of supplies is finalized, the shopping fun begins! Supplies are purchased and used to fill as many backpacks as possible, to help as many refugee children as possible. The annual Giving Ceremony, near the end of the school year (in the Jessie Auditorium Wednesday, June 11 at 2:00 pm this year), is where the students see their selfless project come to fruition. -- Breakwater invites the Refugee Resettlement Program to an all-school meeting, and the pile of stuffed backpacks is formally donated to refugee children.

The community service project is funded through various efforts during the year. -- The community collects bottles through Breakwater's Clynk account, the students collect donations during their annual Variety Show, and more. It is a great way to engage the community for a good cause, and has been a great success through the years.