Fortin retires after 35 years on the job

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RUMFORD — Darlene Fortin’s flexibility and dedication during her 35 years as secretary at Regional School Unit 10’s Pennacook Learning Center has earned her many accolades from her supervisor.

“She’s been my right arm. She’s amazing. We’re really going to miss her,” Richard Greene, director of the day treatment facility, said.

Fortin, 55, retires from the job she loves on Friday.

“I’ve enjoyed all my different jobs. I am very flexible. Any job they’ve given me, I’ve done,” she said.

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Fortin, from Hanover, began her career a couple of years after she graduated from Rumford High School. In the summer of 1979 she was secretary to the superintendent and went on to serve as a library aide and clerical worker. She soon became secretary at the then-Virginia Elementary School for 26 years.

When that school became the Pennacook Learning Center in 2005, she stayed in the same building and served as secretary there.

“I’ll probably feel lost at first,” she said of her impending retirement. “I’ll miss the students and the staff.”

She has worked under several superintendents and several principals. She has seen the elementary school change into the district’s day treatment center. And she has also seen incredible changes in technology. When she started, there weren’t any computers. Now, she said virtually everything is computerized.

“It was very sad when (Virginia Elementary School) closed. I liked the parents. We had a nice little neighborhood school,” she said.

Fortin has dealt with numerous telephone calls, the police, parents, and tasks ranging from calling substitute teachers early in the morning, to working in the school’s print shop.

“Rick has been a super boss. He’s nice and easy to talk with, and very pleasant,” she said.

Fortin has been planning for retirement for quite some time.

She’s a huge fan of animals and country music. Alan Jackson is her favorite singer and is one she has not yet had her picture taken with. She has attended concerts by more than 100 country music groups and has dozens of autographs and photos of them.

In retirement, she hopes to get involved with animal care, and to make more trips to Nashville, Tenn., and Branson, Mo.

“I like to shop and to travel, particularly to the southern states,” she said.

Crafts, reading and going to yard sales are her other interests.

Retirement will feel strange at first, she said.

“But they’ll be no more 5 a.m. phone calls for subs. I’m excited and happy,” she said.

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