MEXICO — Sue Dolloff thought she wanted to teach little children when she launched her teaching career. But an opening was available at Mountain Valley Middle School, so she thought she’d get her foot in the door by taking it.

Now, nearly two decades later, she is retiring from that original sixth-grade position, and very pleased that she stayed with the older students.

“I was hooked,” she said of the sixth-graders. “They are all unique individuals. They’re grown-ups one minute, and kids the next. They make you have energy.”

Dolloff, 62, has taught social studies and science at the middle school since 1994. Prior to that, she was an educational technician at Meroby Elementary School and had done long-term substituting in the district. She had also served as a Title I and English as a second language teacher when her husband, John, was stationed in the Philippines.

She began her college career at San Diego University, a college not far from her hometown of Upland, Calif., but she didn’t graduate. In the mid-1980s, she decided to return to college, at the University of Maine at Farmington, where she completed her elementary school teaching degree.

Dolloff began studying speech pathology when she attended the California college. Her elementary education major at UMF, with emphases on American studies, speech pathology and music, allowed her to teach social studies and science, which are subjects she enjoys.

“I like the story of our country and I’m proud of it. I try to instill that in our kids. We’re not always right, but to think where we’ve come in 200 or 300 years is just amazing,” she said.

Science, too, is something that gives great joy.

“It’s the ‘aha’ moment when they finally figure out why something works the way it does,” she said.

Her science class will join other classes who will take part in a River Valley project later this school year. Dolloff’s class, along with other science classes, will look at the physical science of the River Valley, while others will study the history, literature and other topics with a local area viewpoint.

As she sorts through her desk and cabinets as she prepares to leave her classroom, Dolloff has a pile of notes and cards she has received from past students and their parents. She also has many now grown-up students who return to her classroom to visit. She said she’ll miss the students and her colleagues immensely.

“The kids are a good tonic. They come in and are happy to see you,” she said. “A little piece of the kids goes with you when they leave at the end of the school year.”

She is also grateful for her colleagues, whom she said are great to work with and from whom she has learned much.

But now is the time to leave her position. She’ll have more time to visit her elderly parents in California, as well as spend more time with her recently born grandchild.

She and her husband, who has already retired after serving many years as a bus driver/custodian for the former SAD 43, will have a chance to travel to some of the places in the United States and Canada they both want to see. Chances are they’ll also take many day trips in Maine, with Dolloff riding on the back of her husband’s Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.

She and her husband have two adult children and one grandchild.

“I wouldn’t change anything. This is the best job in the world,” she said.

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