MEXICO — Jane Gaudette plans to dig out an old poetry book she started writing years ago and begin writing again.

Gaudette, age 60, will retire from Meroby Elementary School when classes end June 17, after teaching nearly every grade for 35 years. The last few years she has taught second-graders.

“They are unique students. They’re old enough to be somewhat independent and still excited about learning,” she said.

She began, and will end, her career in her hometown. She graduated from Mexico High School and from Saint Joseph’s College in Windham with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education. She has taught all of her years in Mexico. Some years it was sixth grade, others it was third grade, and for a couple of years, she taught in the grades six and seven resource room.

Deciding what career path to follow was never a question.

Her mother, Catherine Puiia, was a teacher at the former Mexico and Rumford high schools, and her sister, Sally, is a teacher at Meroby.

“It is the one profession I felt I could incorporate helping people and being creative,” she said. “I’ve loved teaching all the subjects and wouldn’t have chosen anything else.”

Over the years, she has seen many changes, particularly in the structure of families.

“That has impacted education. I don’t believe an emotional and physical safety net is provided as well. More is expected of the schools, and (educational) standards are higher,” she said.

She said she has enjoyed working with the children, some of whom are those of her previous students.

“I like working with them and taking them from where they are and hopefully helping them feel successful, and to see them progress through the years,” she said.

Gaudette decided to retire to pursue other interests and explore new hobbies. Besides her poetry, she likes many of poetry’s genres, as well as cross country and Alpine skiing, spending time with her three grandchildren, growing vegetables and flowers, and reading biographies and historical fiction.

She said she has enjoyed working with her colleagues, whom she calls a family and who provide a strong support system. When she leaves on June 17, she said she’ll feel a sense of melancholy.

She and her husband, Jeffery, who works at Bessey Motors in Paris, are the parents of two adult children.

“I see success stories. If I can make a difference in the life of one child, it’s worth it,” she said.


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