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Farewell and thank you
Brian Morgan, OHCHS, 29 years
Teaches: Pre-Calculus, Algebra 2, and Algebra 1 – Intervention Math
A favorite memory: “Every time I close the door and just have my kids to teach.”
“I have four daughters, can’t he stay one more year? For the last one?” asked Donna Marcotte-Bell, an English teacher at OHCHS. She explained that she had Brian Morgan as a teacher when she was in school, and wished the same for all of her daughters.
Teaching mathematics has filled most of Morgan’s life, and for nearly 30 years, he has been at OHCHS. Morgan was a junior in college when he first knew that he would become a teacher. “I didn’t pick it, I think it picked me!” he said.
After covering for his sister’s 6th grade class, he knew he wanted to teach.
The reputation of Oxford Hills’ math department brought him to this area. Initially, Morgan was hired as a Computer Science teacher before he was able to get the position he really wanted.
Now he’s teaching high-level students but also finds it rewarding to teach an intervention math class for struggling students.
“Anybody can teach high-level and look good, but those kids are harder [to teach].” Yet, he says, it remains one of his favorite parts of the job.
Morgan made a commitment to teaching. “I’ve always worked summers so that I can afford to teach,” he said.
Alongside the numerous outside jobs, Morgan has chaired the scholarship committee, been a part of the crisis committee, faculty leadership team, and coached sports, among other things.
Recently, his health got in the way – but he took very little time off, not wanting to give up his classes.
A busy man, Morgan is now taking his much-deserved break. He plans to finally get the rest he needs to fully recover and then he will spend time traveling with his wife, hunting, fishing, golfing and visiting his camp in northern Maine.
Mary Newcomb, Paris Elementary, 7 years
A favorite experience: “Opening the world up to kids.”
Mary Newcomb, though she has been a guidance counselor at Paris Elementary for the past seven years, worked in Bethel at SAD 44 for 26 years before she retired for the first time.
The pull of schools and teaching children inspired her to return to teaching. She always knew she would be a teacher, and though she could see herself having become a math teacher, her very own guidance counselor sent her in a different direction.
In being a guidance counselor herself, Newcomb noticed that children have more options today. “Kids are lucky, most things are open to them. If you want to do it badly enough, you will,” she said. She likes to bring the children to this realization too, she said.
She loves “opening the world up to kids,” by taking them on trips to Sturbridge, to the ocean and even to northern Ireland once. She likes “knowing that these kids are getting out there and seeing the world,” and “some kids doing jobs they wouldn’t have done.”
Newcomb grew up on the coast of Maine, and acknowledges that Mainers, even as kids and especially the boys, may have a hard time expressing their feelings. As a guidance counselor, she seeks to “recognize their feelings and validate those feelings as normal and good.”
Now Newcomb is finally retiring for good. “This is closure,” she said. Though she will miss the kids, she has no worries about keeping busy, and even feels as though she has too many things to do at times.
Jennifer Padgett, OHCHS, 11 years
Teaches: Literacy Specialist
A favorite experience: Having middle school reading buddies with elementary school students.
Four children, between four and twelve years old, are what takes Jennifer Padgett away from her job as a literacy specialist at OHCHS. She and her husband have two sons, and have adopted two daughters from China in the past few years. "They need to have a full-time mommy at this time," she said.
This doesn’t mean she is done teaching, however. She will be home-schooling her children, perhaps a full-time job in itself. In addition, she writes for magazines, as well as her own blog and is working to improve Maine’s adoption situation.
“I am involved with Second Best Ministries; one of our goals is to get every foster child from the state of Maine a forever home,” she explains, among other things. She may also return to teaching once her children have grown up.
Padgett says, “I just grew up wanting to teach and help children.” She has done this numerous places throughout Maine – from Old Town to Skowhegan – and in subjects like English and History.
She doesn’t even stop teaching when the school day is over. She works as a writing tutor and teaching in the Adult Education Program. Her love of the students is what has strengthened this passion for teaching.
“I have deeply valued and loved being part of my students' lives in some way,” she said.
Pam Stock, Guy E Rowe, 20 years
Teaches: Special Education
A favorite experience: “Unlocking the door to reading.”
Pam Stock’s first experience teaching in the Australian Outback for two years may be comparable to her future plans. After returning from abroad, she taught at her first one-room schoolhouse in Vermont.
Now she will finish her career in a similar fashion, spending her last two years on remote Mattinicus Island at a K-8 single-room schoolhouse.
Stock isn’t exactly retiring; she still has two more years before she will stop teaching. She is resigning due to a “difference of opinion with the Superindendent,” she said. After twenty years, her absence from the district will be noted. Despite this, she is excited to move on to the next adventure.
Mattinicus Island is accessible by ferry only once a month in the winter, and generally, by single-engine plane. It’s a hardworking lobstering community, and she says the job was a perfect fit.
Always knowing that she would be a teacher, Stock says that as far as she can remember, she used to teach her younger siblings. And when her siblings weren’t available, she taught her stuffed animals.
Although she will miss the students at Guy E Rowe, she admits,“I know I’ll fall in love with the ones out there.” She is moving by herself to a nice house on the picturesque island, while her partner will stay and “hold down the fort” for the next two years.
Being so remote may seem difficult to some, but Stock looks forward to a slower pace. “I have had so little time. I love to read, and it will be an indulgence and joy to be able to do that. I will have no trouble entertaining myself.”
Carol Jones, Paris Elelmentary, 12 years
Teaches: 6th grade
A favorite memory: “The friendship of my coworkers,” experiential teaching.
Though she originally wanted to be an actress, Carol Jones turned to teaching when she was a freshman in college. She doesn’t remember why, but since then she has taught in Buckfield, at the Guy E Rowe School and Harrison Elementary, before she settled for teaching at Paris Elementary where she has taught 6th grade for 12 years.
She came to Paris so that she could be in the same district as her children, and "so that I would have the same schedule/calendar as they did, and not have to travel too far," she said. Now that Jones will have more free time, she will be able to spend even more time with her kids.
She isn’t truly retiring, she said; she is "simply starting a new chapter in my life" with her new husband. She said that he will be more flexible and she will have a less stressful career. She plans to “travel, write, work with my husband in his business and artistic pursuits, spend time with family, sleep, read, cook, renovate our house, garden, exercise…”
Despite being able to relax more and follow various interests of her own, Jones will miss her fellow teachers, and having summers off. Her favorite teaching moments are experiential activities, like "When I turned my classroom into the ocean at the end of a research project,” she said, as an example.
As a teacher, and she claims that many would agree with her, Jones says they are always “greatly affected by those students with whom we feel have made a real difference - the ones [who] 'get it' and give it their all.”
Basil Chadbourne, OHMS, 47 years
Teaches: Currently an ed tech, previously a math teacher – grade 7
Favorite experience: “Little success stories.”
Basil Chadbourne has been teaching for 47 years, but, as he says: “It’s time to move on.” He already cut back his hours, working as an ed tech for the past 10 years, but after such a long time, he admits that “you realize you can’t go on forever.”
Chadbourne isn’t worried about how he will spend his time; he has plenty to occupy himself. “I’ll miss it, but I have enough to do,” he said. He is looking forward to spending time traveling, which the school schedule makes nearly impossible. Chadbourne plans to take a trip to Disney World with his wife and nine-year-old granddaughter.
He will also go fishing at Kennebago Lake in Rangeley and visit Jackman. He will be able to spend time with his wife and help her at their church, the First Congregational of South Paris. Most importantly, Chadbourne is looking forward to “Time. Time to do the things I haven’t done.”
Despite being enthusiastic about his future plans, Chadbourne also looks fondly back at the time he spent teaching. He recalls a recent moment where, after spending time helping a student read, the student was encouraged to continue on his own.
This is what he calls “little success stories.” Seeing students succeed, particularly those who have difficulties. Those are his favorite moments.
Though he always knew he was going to college, it was Chadbourne’s high school principal that steered him towards teaching. After 47 years as a teacher, and before that, as a student, “It will be the first time since 1948 that I’ve been out of school,” Chadbourne says.
Kathy Davis, Guy E. Rowe School, 21 years
A favorite experience: Reading aloud
“It’s all about the story for me,” says Kathy Davis, at the end of her career as the elementary school librarian for SAD 17. Though she will be sad to leave the position, she knows that it is for the best.
“I don’t have the vision I need anymore,” she said. "This job needs someone to see the possibilities.” Supervising the eight elementary libraries across the district is a lot of work. Davis reviews children’s literature and purchases new books every year to keep the libraries up-to-date.
She will miss having the connection to the new books coming out every year. She has a granddaughter that she will still read to, but she said that it’s not the same as the thousands of students in the district that she now serves. “In a sense, I’ll see, but I won't have a finger on the pulse," she says of the children’s publishing industry.
Davis loves to meet old students, often as they take their own children to school. She hopes that “because they had fun listening, they can have fun reading to their own children.”
She is happy to be open to what possibilities the future might bring. Spending time with her granddaughter and family are at the top of her list.
"It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve read a lot of stories," she says.