2013-06-21 / Neighbors


Retiree reflects on long career in district
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Debbie Rideout (left) shares a laugh with Superintendent George Entwistle and Christine Massengill, Chairman of the Board of Education, at the June 6 school board meeting. (Michael Kelley photo) Debbie Rideout (left) shares a laugh with Superintendent George Entwistle and Christine Massengill, Chairman of the Board of Education, at the June 6 school board meeting. (Michael Kelley photo) When someone has a question about the Scarborough School District, it can safely be assumed Debbie Rideout knows the answer.

For more than 30 years Rideout has been working in the district’s central office, including the last 17 as the administrative assistant to the superintendent. During that time, Rideout has gained a wealth of information about education in Scarborough, but come June 28, that collective memory will be gone when Rideout retires.

“Because I have been in the district for so long, the knowledge I have is going to leave with me. It is the only thing I can’t leave behind. I can leave a paper trail, but I can’t leave the history. I can’t leave the things I know happened in the district,” Rideout said last week.

Rideout and the other retiring teachers and educators were honored earlier this month at the Board of Education meeting Thursday, June 6.

Rideout started in the Scarborough School District in March 1983 as a parttime administrative assistant for special education department’s gifted and talented program. In 1985 she was hired full time and worked in that capacity until 1996, when the superintendent’s assistant position became vacant.

“I applied for the position and I have been sitting in the hot seat ever since,” Rideout said with a laugh.

Since then, Rideout has been doing whatever is needed to help the operation of the school system, including working as the secretary to the superintendent; serving as scribe at the Board of Education meetings; filing reports to the state regarding staff and students, as well as posting news updates to the district’s website. Rideout, who has worked for nine superintendents during her time with the district, has also kept tabs on the fingerprinting program for the district’s staff. Per state law, all employees of the district have to have their fingerprint file updated at least every five years.

Rideout, who grew up in South Portland, but now lives less than two miles from the school campus, went to Mount Ida College — then a two-year business college — to be a medical secretary. She ended up, however, getting a diploma as a technical secretary and went to work for a publishing company in Boston for a few years before moving back to Portland to take a position in the front office at Hannaford.

Rideout left the workforce in the mid- 1970s to stay home with her daughters.

“I didn’t want anyone else raising my children and child care was not an option for me, so I stayed home until my older daughter was 8-and-a-half,” Rideout said. “Things got tight for us, with just my husband’s salary, so I went back to work.”

A small help wanted ad in a newspaper listing an open position in the Scarborough School District ended up being an opportunity of a lifetime for Rideout.

Rideout said she applied for the position — which included an interview and short typing test — and didn’t think much of it. That is, until later that day, when she was offered the job.

“The woman I interviewed with called me back at 5 p.m. that day and offered me the job,” Rideout recalled.

Perhaps it was fitting that Rideout got into education.

Both her grandmother and her brother were teachers. Her daughter, Raelene Bodman, worked in the Scarborough Community Services’ child care office for several years before stepping down to raise her own family, much like her mother did a generation ago.

Rideout said with advances in education and the constant changes to educational methodology, there was always something new and exciting for her to learn.

“There was always a challenge out there and there was always something that allowed me to be what we call in Scarborough, ‘a life-long learner,’” Rideout said.

Rideout said she is going to miss the dayto day interaction with her coworkers.

“I consider the girls here and all the staff as my working family. I am going to miss them,” Rideout said.

Rideout said now was just the right time to retire and spend more time with her family, including her husband James, who retired eight years ago.

“We wanted to be able to have some time together. I was afraid that wouldn’t happen if I continued working,” Rideout said.

Rideout does not have any concrete retirement plans, but hopes to keep busy sewing and tending to her garden, as well as traveling with her husband. The couple has a bus trip planned to New York City in October.

“We are really looking forward to doing some things down there,” she said. “It is going to be nice to just being able to do something instead of saying we can’t do that until the weekend or planning something three or four weeks in advance.” Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at leader.mainelymediallc.com and let us know your thoughts.

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