BUCKFIELD — Nikki Millonzi considers retirement not an end of something but the beginning of the next stage of her life.
On June 17, Millonzi, 67, will leave a 27-year varied career in education that has included teaching every age group, children in Maine and Germany, the traditional elementary grades as well as the arts.
She will end her career as art teacher at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School.
“I’m really glad I’ve done the last three years at the high school,” the Norway resident said. “I’ve known all these kids since the very beginning. I like to see what they can come up with and their creative approach.”
Millonzi, originally from Buffalo and Mt. Vernon, N.Y., has lived in Maine for nearly 40 years. After she graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland in elementary education and literature, she traveled to the western states, then to a military base in Germany where she taught third grade. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern Maine.
Long before she began teaching art in the public schools, she was a practicing artist. She comes from a family of artists, including her father who worked as a painter and neon sculptor, and a sister who was a potter.
Millonzi currently has a show at the Norway Public Library where works in paint, multimedia and ceramics are on display.
She decided many years ago to become a teacher because she loves children. She loves art, too, so teaching children to use their creative minds seemed like the perfect pairing.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” she said. “Many people have helped me when the program was to be cut. I’ve had wonderful supervisors and superintendents. I’ve been doing the things I enjoy and believe are good.”
Along with art, she loves literature. She wrote a children’s book several years ago titled “The Red Eft.” It was a story about the middle life stage of a red eft (a newt or salamander). She illustrated it, as well, as the tiny amphibian entered each of its colorful stages.
Writing another book may be something she’ll tackle once retired. Or maybe she’ll open a ceramics studio or seclude herself in her home studio.
She likes to create semi-abstracts and more realistic works from nature and the outdoors.
“I like the idea of not exactly knowing what I will do. I have a lot of possibilities and ideas,” she said.
She won’t sever her ties with the Buckfield schools.
“Maybe I’ll sub. I won’t be a stranger,” she said.
She’ll have more time to visit her grandchildren. Two are nearby in West Paris; two live in Georgia. And she’ll maintain her flower and vegetable gardens, and work on improving her skiing.
Her creativity will be fed this summer when she attends a two-week workshop in ceramics at the Haystack School of Crafts on Deer Isle.
“I leave with mixed feelings,” she said. “It’s time to retire. I’m looking forward because I still have a lot of things I want to do.”