DIXFIELD — Although the technology has changed in the 25 years Shirley Austin has been teaching high school, the students are the same.

“I am continually learning from them,” she said. “They make me laugh and keep me young.”

Austin, who has taught English at Dirigo High School for 23 years, is retiring at the end of this school year. She subbed for one year at Dirigo Middle School and began her teaching career at Mexico High School. She has also taught social studies, which she says are stories about people and how they connect with each other.

“I love working with the kids and I want them to share my love for literature,” she said. “Literature connects with people.”

Among the books that have had a big impact on students is Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

“There are so many themes that we can connect with the mockingbird, which symbolizes people who don’t have a voice,” Austin said. “It’s really neat when kids make the connection between books and life.”

Students also connected with Mexico author Monica Wood’s novel, “Ernie’s Ark.”

“It takes place in this area and has a paper mill. It shows how all the people in the community have a connection,” she said.

Austin, 65, began her career in 1968 soon after graduating from the University of Maine, then took a few years off to raise her three children.

That’s one of the reasons she decided to retire this year: to see her children and her two grandsons more often. Her husband, Ron, is semi-retired.

One of the first things she’ll do upon retirement is help plan her parents’ 70th wedding anniversary party. Some of her siblings will come from Ohio and Florida for the big event that will be held in the Old Town area where many in her family live.

She also hopes to write a family history. Writing is one of her passions. Others include growing flowers and reading. She said she wants to read more Maine authors, and perhaps, do a little traveling in her retirement.

She said she will miss the students and the staff at Dirigo.

“I love teaching in Dixfield. It’s a small school, the kids are polite, and the parents are concerned and involved. I’ve seen some students progress from freshmen to seniors,” she said. “When June 17 comes, I’ll be sad, but I look forward to the next step in my life.”

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