2012-06-15 / Neighbors

Final bell tolls for a teaching career

School district salutes retiring educators
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

Elizabeth Spaulding will retire at the end of this school year after 39 years teaching English in Scarborough. Spaulding said she will miss the day-to-day interaction with students the most. (Michael Kelley photo) Elizabeth Spaulding will retire at the end of this school year after 39 years teaching English in Scarborough. Spaulding said she will miss the day-to-day interaction with students the most. (Michael Kelley photo) Elizabeth Spaulding never intended to be a teacher. But after 39 years of teaching English in the Scarborough School District, Spaulding is retiring from the job she has grown to love.

“It has been a wonderful, wonderful job for me,” said Spaulding, who decided to be a teacher as a sophomore at Connecticut College. “I grew into the job and grew as a result of this. I never got tired of doing this job. I’ll miss it.”

Spaulding, who taught advanced placement English and the English portion of the gifted and talented program this year, said she is going to miss the day-to-day interactions with students the most.

“I am going to miss the kid contact the most. For the past 39 years I have been working with kids all throughout the year and I’ve always looking forward to going back,” she said.

This will be the first September Spaulding will not be in school since 1956, when she started school. In her retirement, Spaulding said she would like to spend more time with her husband of 12 years by helping him run his small

School district retirements

Ellen Beale: assistant principal at Wentworth Intermediate School (8 years in district)

Noreen Dion: French teacher at Scarborough High School (23 years)

Jeanette Guglielmetti: living lab teacher at Scarborough Middle School (10 years)

Brent Johnston: fourth grade teacher at Wentworth Intermediate School (25 years)

Christine LeHay: social worker at Wentworth Intermediate School (22 years)

Richard Lewis: chemistry teacher at Scarborough High School (27 years)

Elizabeth Spaulding: English teacher at Scarborough High School (39 years)

Kathy Wise: special education teacher at Scarborough Middle School (34 years) business. She is also hoping to rekindle an interest in photography and do some traveling.

Spaulding did quite a bit of traveling as a teacher, leading trips for People to People student ambassadors to Australia, Russia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy and going on a five-week tour of Russia in 1987.

“That opened a whole new world for me. I loved teaching, but I also loved traveling with students. It made me see another side of them and I guess they saw another side of me,” Spaulding said.

In her retirement, here will be plenty of time for Spaulding to reminisce about the only career she has ever known. When Spaulding started teaching in the Scarborough School District, Richard Nixon was president, Title IX had recently been passed and Billy Joel had just released “Piano Man.”

Spaulding, a Kennebunk resident, quickly found a second home in the Scarborough school district. In 1973, fresh out of college, Spaulding was hired as a sixth-grade teacher in the old Scarborough Junior High School – now Wentworth Intermediate School. She soon began working in the gifted and talented program at Scarborough Middle School, where she worked until coming to the high school six years ago.

“I’ve never thought of looking elsewhere in all these years. I never wish I had chosen another profession. It was such a great fit for me. I almost always had great kids in the middle school and now the high school. I loved being at the high school. I probably should have came here sooner,” Spaulding said.

Last week at a Scarborough Board of Education meeting, Spaulding and four other retirees were honored for their years of service to the district.

“She has had such a great impact on her students,” said high school Principal Dean Auriemma prior to presenting Spaulding with a commemorative plaque at the school board’s June 7 meeting.

Katie Elliot, one of the two student representatives on the school board, said at the meeting that students don’t have to have Spaulding as a teacher to feel her impact.

“I had Mrs. Spaulding for a study hall,” said Elliot, who is going into her senior year. “It’s amazing how much she connects with you even when you don’t have her as a teacher. I am sad I won’t get to have you for English next year,” she told Spaulding.

Spaulding’s contributions to education at the high school was not lost on the 252 students graduating this year. Auriemma said the seniors decided to dedicate the 2011-2012 yearbook to Spaulding to honor her years of service in the school system.

Susan Ketch, the assistant principal at the high school, said she hates to see “a person like (Spaulding) go.”

“She was a great teacher in the middle school for years. The high school has been extremely fortunate to have her here the last six years of her career,” Ketch said.

One of the things Ketch commended Spaulding for was for her work overseeing an internship program for gifted and talented students.

Since starting the program five years ago, Spaulding said she has been able to place students at Fore Street Restaurant in Portland; the Cheese Iron in Scarborough; Maine Medical Center and Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital; professional recording studios, financial investment firms, biology labs, pharmacies, Pleasant Hill Primary School and Lone Wolf Documentaries, among others.

“They tell me what they are interested in and I match them up. I impress on the kids that it doesn’t have to be something they want to do for a living. Something that they just want to learn more about is OK, too,” Spaulding said, adding that program and her course load will be picked up by the new teacher hired to replace her. No one has been hired to date.

While Ketch had nice things to say about Spaulding, principals and leaders of the middle and intermediate schools has equally kind word to say about the retiring teachers honored at the June 7 meeting. Barbara Hathorn, principal at Scarborough Middle School, said Kathy Wise, a longtime special education teacher at the school and Jeanette Guglielmetti, who has been teaching in the living labs program for a decade, were “true professionals, who lead by example” and inspires all those students, staff and other educators around them.

Ann-Mayre Dexter, principal of Wentworth Intermediate School, thanked Chris Lehay, a social worker at the school for the past 22 years, for being “a kind heart ever-present to guide Scarborough students and their families.”

“Each day you have spent with our children will be remembered,” Dexter said.

At the ceremony, Dexter also said goodbye to Ellen Beale, the assistant principal at the school for the past eight years. In her remarks, Dexter called Beale “a key advocate for students when redirection was needed” and thanked her for overseeing their social and academic growth “with proper respect and care.”

Also retiring this school year is Noreen Dion, a French teacher at the high school, Brent Johnston, a fourth grade teacher at Wentworth Intermediate School and Richard Lewis, a chemistry teacher at the high school.

Jackie Perry, a longtime Board of Education member who has served on and off since the 1970s, was also appreciative of all the retirees had given to the district in their educational careers.

“Those of you retiring, you have contributed so much to the town and you have my thank you,” Perry said. “I know what it’s like to educate kids and seeing them grow. There is nothing better in the world. I wish you well.”

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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