MEXICO — Rita Aromaa ends her 26-year career as a special education teacher when school closes in June.
Her work has been filled with wonderful memories of all her students at Meroby Elementary School, she said.
“Sometimes they come in as parents. I’ve met wonderful families over the years,” she said.
Teaching special education students is also different than the duties of regular classroom teachers.
“I’ve been with some students for years,” she said.
“Special education has a close relationship with children and their parents. They try to do the very best they can for their children.”
But now, it’s time for her and her husband, Karl, to spend more time working on their Rumford home as well as on their camp at Howard Pond. They also want to do more traveling, and she wants to do more volunteering at McLaughlin Gardens in South Paris.
Karl will also retire from his position as librarian at Rumford Public Library later this year.
For Rita, retirement is not the end of just one career, but of two.
She began her professional life as a pediatric nurse in Massachusetts. When she and Karl moved to Maine in 1982, she began her teaching career as an educational technician at the former Hope School in Rumford.
Transitioning her skills from the specialty of working with children as a nurse, to teaching children with a variety of disabilities, was not that different, she said. She had to take teaching courses, but she found that her talents transferred well.
With nursing, there’s always the next shift to take over. But with teaching, finding materials to help out in the classroom is always with you, she said.
“I’m always thinking, there’s an idea, or there’s an idea,” she said.
Her latest teaching materials involve her daughter, Susan, who is moving to the West Coast. Aromaa’s students will follow her daughter’s trip on a map. A second mapping educational unit will be based on the military deployment the son of one her educational technicians, Leslie Skibitsky, will make to the Middle Eastern country of Qatar. Students will learn about the world as they follow Scott Skibitsky’s travels.
She and her husband also have another daughter, Katherine, who works on behavioral issues with dogs.
When Aromaa leaves in June, she’ll be leaving the classroom she first taught in. Through the years, she’s moved around the school, but the last couple of years have been spent in the bright, airy classroom.
“I love the children. They make us smile,” she said. “And I’ve enjoyed all the Meroby family.”