JAY —  Lynn Ouellette believes that teachers who don’t get to work with middle school children are being cheated.

She loves her students at Spruce Mountain Middle School, their stories and their sense of being genuine, she said.

“They are capable of showing some maturity but they are still young so they are enthused about learning,” she said.

Ouellette, 58, will retire from her position as seventh- or eighth-grade English Language Arts teacher on June 17. She has worked in Regional School Unit 73 and the former Jay School Department for 37 years.

She believes every teacher finds his or her own niche, and hers has been the middle school.

She said she agonized for many months before finally deciding it was time to retire and begin a new life. She made pro and con lists.

“I still love the time with kids, but it’s hours of work outside the school day,” she said.

She’s ready to have a day off without thinking about school work, she said.

Ouellette wants to spend more time with her husband, children and grandchild, she said.

But she won’t completely leave the school to which she has devoted so many years. She plans to substitute so she’ll get some time with the students and her colleagues.

She also hopes to join a book/movie group at Jay Niles Memorial Library and will sit on the library’s Board of Trustees.

Throughout the years, she has been active in the RSU 73 Education Association and the Maine Education Association.

She began her career at the former Jay Junior High School that sat near the current middle school.

Ouellette said she wasn’t always an enthusiastic student. When she graduated from the former Livermore Falls High School, her mother told her she was going to college.

“My mother was a real push,” she said. And she’s glad she was.

At the end of her freshman year at the University of Maine at Farmington, Ouellette said, she realized that she loved learning. And she particularly enjoys English because of the creative process of writing. She also loves to read and tries to get her students to feel the same.

“It’s so wonderful when you see that happen. To see the changes and watch that accomplishment,” she said.

Retirement will also allow her more time to spend with her husband, who is an electrician at Verso Paper Co., and to look after her 1-year-old granddaughter, Coraline.

The biggest change she has seen in education during her 37 years is technology, she said.

Ouellette manages a nearly paperless classroom. All homework, tests and anything else that students write is done on computers. Ouellette grades it and sends it to students via computer. She often does the written or reading work right along with her students.

“Not everyone gets to do a job that they love,” she said.

She and her husband live in Jay. They have a daughter, Rebecca, and a son, Jeff, as well as a grandchild.


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