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Kemsen Bourque, Otisfield Community School
OTISFIELD — Kemsen Bourque is a first-grade teacher at the Otisfield Community School and has been teaching there since its doors opened in 1990.
Bourque grew up and went to school in the town she now teaches.
“I had two sisters and we always got along and we were always a close family and still are,” she said. “In the summer my sisters and I would put on skits, sing and dance for Mom and Dad in the picture window, while they sat outside on the hood of the car as our audience. My oldest sister Kyra was in the fifth grade when I started school and Kophia was one year ahead of me. I remember when Kophia went to a different school room downstairs, I cried, but she reassured me that she would see me at recess.”
Some of Bourque’s fondest memories are of those friendships and school days.
“Otisfield Central School was small town and a place of friendship,” she said. “We had three grades in one classroom all the way to eighth grade. I had Mrs. Bean, who happened to be my grandmother, as my teacher for three years. We made our first friends, built huts by the stone walls and went sliding down the big hill in the winter on toboggans, cardboard and tin cookie sheets.”
This small town girl even met her husband here.
“Rick was in eighth grade and I was in sixth. We were at the Rec Center in Norway watching a movie. He was with his girlfriend at the time, and I thought they made a perfect pair. I began to have a crush on him in seventh grade, and wore a pin on my cheerleading uniform with his name on it. We have been together since and we just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on July 3. He’s the love of my life.”
Bourque and her husband have two children, Kashina, 27, and Kabe, 25.
Bourque has wanted to be a teacher since her own kindergarten days.
“I was in kindergarten when Mrs. Bean read an alphabet book where each letter represented a job you would like to have when you grew up,” she smiled. “I can distinctly remember thinking 'I will have to wait forever for the letter T and teacher to be read.'”
Bourque got her degree at the University of Southern Maine.
“And I began teaching at the Middle School in South Paris. I absolutely loved it. Teaching was my calling and it’s a dream come true. My first group of students was only nine or 10 years younger than I was, but I treated them with respect, and so I got it in return.”
Her first day of school?
“I was in heaven on my first day of school,” she glowed. “I do not remember being nervous at all. The interesting part was that I was teaching with one of my old principals from Otisfield and many of my former junior high teachers.”
Then I took some time off to raise my family. When the new school was being built, I applied for the part-time kindergarten position.”
And that was her last year working part time.
“I just love it!” she smiled. “My son was my kindergarten student the next year... along with my twin nephews, cousins and children of friends. This is what it's like living in the small town in which I grew up and now live!”
Her favorite part of teaching is being with the children on a daily basis.
“They are just so precious,” she said. “It is different, every single day. It’s like breathing to me. I am at my best when I am in my classroom with my children. The last day of the year can be bittersweet. I am sorry and sad that our year has come to an end, but I am extremely excited about their accomplishments.”
“One year a little boy just didn’t want to get on the bus,” she added. “He just cried because he did not want to say goodbye to me.”
First grade educators can always come up with fun sayings.
“I like to keep my room tidy,” she laughed. “I use the term spick-and-span. After our usual pick up time, one little boy asked if the room was spick and Spanish enough? I also overheard a little girl say that I was as beautiful as Cinderella and another one replied that I was as nice as her Fairy Godmother and that was rewarding.”
Her best part of the day ... lunch!
“I ask for lunch duty to be with the children. I love chatting with them. I also love the singing and dancing with the kiddos and sharing those one-of-a-kind moments … it’s great being silly with them.”
During her time off, this teacher enjoys spending time with her family.
“We go boating on Thompson Lake a lot and we have family get-togethers at our pool. Walking with my sister Ky is a must because it is like therapy for both of us. I love to read books and always read at least one professional book to learn more about teaching each year.”
Being a teacher is quite rewarding for Bourque.
“Teachers are so lucky. I walk in the door every day feeling like a rock star,” she said. “I love being a part of their ‘ah-ha’ moment or just simply being there when a child needs me. One special moment for me was when a student of mine mentioned me in his graduation speech. He told how I had taught him 'The Kindergarten Way ... The Way of Life.'
"I was thrilled to be remembered. How many people get to be such an important part of a child's life? I sincerely hope and pray that I make a positive impact on every child, and that I will be remembered fondly with a smile on my face.”