BETHEL – Norma Salway began her teaching career in the same classroom she attended as a girl. Now she ends it in the former classroom of the teacher who got her interested in the profession.

Salway has served SAD 44 as a teacher aide for 11 years, and as a kindergarten or first grade teacher for 22 years.

“I love the kids. I will miss them. I love teaching and seeing the kids light up when they get something,” the Albany Township resident said. “They make me laugh, they make me cry.”

But now, it’s time to try something else, said Salway, 63, who will wrap up her career in June.

“I love to write poetry. I’ve written about Songo Pond. I have lived on the pond all my life,” she said.

She has also used that talent in the classroom, writing poems that teach science, reading or other skills when paired with a familiar tune like “Yankee Doodle Dandy” or “This Old Man.” To learn the short sounds of vowels, she used the tune “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

She has also written poems to get something new across, such as one about Maine’s tidal pools. With or without music, the poems follow the standards set forth by Maine’s Learning Results, she said.

“Kids will remember it if it’s set to music,” she said.

Once she retires, she hopes to write at least a book of poems about Songo Pond, and perhaps a second, using her poems and accompanying music for other classroom teachers to use.

When Salway entered her first classroom as a full-fledged teacher, it was a thrill, she said. It was in the former Ethel Bisbee School in Bethel where she had been a first-grader many years ago.

She took a long-way-around-route to become a teacher.

She began as a parent volunteer in 1974 for former teacher Caroline Gould at the Bisbee school. She eventually became a teacher aide, or teacher aide/secretary at the Locke Mills school, then began taking college courses. She graduated from Gould Academy in 1963 and from the University of Southern Maine in 1987.

Salway, with the help of her two sisters and the four other first-grade SAD 44 teachers, plans to treat the entire first grade to a special day on May 1 at her home in Albany Township.

The children will spend the day learning about days gone by. The entrance to her home will look like a one-room school, complete with old desks and chairs. Youngsters will try making butter with a butter churn. One of her sisters will be dressed as an old-time school marm.

“Each room will be set up as a place from the past,” she said.

When Salway isn’t teaching, preparing classes, or writing poetry, she volunteers with the Albany Improvement Society, a organization that is working toward transforming the town house into a historical museum, planting flowers attending the Bethel Congregational Church, or kayaking.

She is the mother of a son, Brandon, who teaches at the Waynflete School in Portland, and a daughter, Kassie. She also has five grandchildren.

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