Up Level
1. To make something better.
          synonyms: optimization, improve, enhance.
2. To increase, or to increase something.
          synonyms: strengthen, add to, raise.
3. To transform and grow in an area.
1. (computing) Having greater capabilities or a higher version number.

Since El Costa created the “safe harbor” of Breakwater School in 1956, we’ve been growing. We purchased the old Chapman Elementary School (our main brick building) to house our primary classroom space, built a gymnasium (“the Dan”), added a middle school program and acquired the Jessie Building, became stewards of the 22-acre “JessieLand” nature preserve, added a toddler program, launched and grew our Enrichment Center, built a tinkering curriculum and more. It is now time to make some improvements to bring our physical spaces more inline with the dynamic way we learn and teach at Breakwater everyday. In a modern phrase, to "Up Level". 

With this next phase in our growth, we aim to bring Breakwater closer to realizing our full potential - as one of the best, most truly innovative models of independent educational excellence, not just in southern Maine- but in America. We will do this by simultaneously developing a framework for financial stability and increasing material support for the programming we offer by:

  • Expanding our Early Childhood program with an additional toddler room and updating preschool classrooms to progressive design standards. Both measures facilitate increased enrollment of our youngest friends, some of whom will matriculate into our elementary and middle school programs;
  • Integrating the library throughout our campus. This intentionally establishes an even more exceptional culture of literacy and scholarship across our entire school (see "The Breakwater Way of Libraries" post for more information)
  • Developing the Curiosity Lab, which offers a new, one-of-a-kind physical space for play, tinkering and innovation as well as inspiring a curriculum that elevates our current programming for toddler through 8th grade (see "Building the Curiosity Lab" post for more information); 
  • Expanding our art studio and open up possibility for students to explore more methods of expression and creativity; 
  • And, by redesigning and rethinking many of our spaces to pragmatically and fantastically optimize our facilities to better support the learning and wonder that occurs within them.


  • Add bathroom facilities and convert the current kindergarten space into two toddler classrooms
  • Redesign preschool classrooms and hallways (including floors, windows, lighting, and the integration of modern educational design elements).
  • Move the kindergarten classroom upstairs to corroborate the bridge between EC and elementary years.
  • Add a bathroom to the first floor hallway for student use.
  • Move dedicated library space downstairs to current toddler space, and create inspirational reading areas throughout the school.
  • Develop the Curiosity Lab in the current library space, moving tinkering classrooms here with more materials and tools with which to make, break and innovate.
  • Expand the art studio into two separate spaces, one for dry activities and the other for wet activities.
  • Continue to develop our outdoor playspaces with nature-based zones for our youngest friends and enhanced aspects of Breakwater’s campus.


  • New families. More toddlers and more enrollment means welcoming new and diverse families into the Breakwater community. 
  • Active ‘heart’ of the school. The central most public space of the school (now the library room) will be an active space for making, breaking, tinkering and inventing, demonstrating student work and making “curiosity” visible and vital. 
  • Up level ‘Essentials’. Expanded space will house elevated and reimagined tinkering and art programs that facilitate application of Breakwater’s teaching model in multiarts studios.
  • Integrated library. We plan to build a beautiful dedicated library space downstairs, and infuse more of the buildings with reading areas and classroom libraries. This achieves more authentic integration of literacy into every aspect of the school. Children from K-8 will also leverage local library resources to connect them to their broader community. (see "The Breakwater Way of Libraries" for more information)
  • Better spaces. We have an opportunity to rethink the use of many of our spaces, making them more efficient, optimized, usable and beautiful for our students, faculty and community.
  • Demand. There has been a waiting list for several years for the toddler program and strong, sustained interest from our surrounding communities.
  • Sustainability. Over 10 years the projected enrollment growth welcomes 30-40 new students across toddler to grade 8. Our school remains intimate in size while moving towards a financially stable model. This increase in revenue allows us potential to adequately compensate our faculty and retain the best teachers, continue facility upgrades to keep current, and achieve financial flexibility to seize unique and important opportunities that keep us able to remain at the forefront and realize our Mission in the most exciting ways.


Your buy in! We remain committed to building strong, effective partnerships between teachers, parents and the children we serve. Breakwater faculty and staff are sincerely grateful for the trust you have placed in us, and in the school we share. We’re incredibly excited about this Up Level in our evolution, and want you to be, too! Please make sure to join us at our Fireside Chat on March 15 and let us hear your comments! Or email us through our "Contact Us" page.

Your giving. We were able to borrow from our return on investment fund to kick off the project, and will fundraise to capitalize on this opportunity. Giving opportunities include:

  • Giving to the overall project. Unrestricted gifts allow the project managers to allocate funds for the most important and pressing needs. 
  • Funding specific spaces or elements, such as the Library, Curiosity Lab or new Preschool Rooms. Naming opportunities and memorial designations are available.
  • Funding specific furniture, supplies or other aspects of the project.
  • Volunteering your expertise. Got a hammer? Contact Renee or David to communicate your interest in helping out.