FARMINGTON – Three teachers plan to resign from the Katahdin Community at the Mt. Blue Middle School, effective at the end of this school year. 

Two of them are disenchanted with parts of education, and another is leaving to work part time in a family business and spend more time with her young son. They will leave after school closes next week.

They all love teaching children, they said.

Language arts teacher Maureen Oswald of Jay has taught at the school for 30 years.

She wrote letters to Superintendent Thomas Ward, the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors, and staff at the school and parents/guardians of her students explaining her reasons for her resignation.

“I am writing on behalf of so many people, so many silenced people who care deeply about the future of RSU 9 but do not dare to rock the boat. I choose to be their voice,” Oswald wrote in her letter to school officials.

“I can no longer sit back complacently, watching good teachers – loyal, dedicated teachers, who clearly know how students learn – leave a profession which no longer shares the vision it promised,” she wrote. “It kills me to see new teachers, their excitement and innocence, their good intentions and bright eyes, walking into what they see as a career in which they can make a difference for kids, only to find that it’s all about data and public relations.”

She is saddened by the way she said the district is micromanaged by a few select people on the school board, and how state testing and new bandwagons each year have forced teachers to spend more time in committee work and less time with students.

“We have completely lost sight of what’s important, and can no longer ride the wagon blindly. I sincerely wish everyone the best of luck attempting to balance what we all know is right with what we are being forced to pretend to,” Oswald wrote.

“I am discouraged,” she said Thursday. “I just don’t feel we are doing our best for our kids.”

She said she feels her ability to make a difference in the lives of students is much more limited than it used to be.

“It’s almost like we now have to choose: either be kind, caring, compassionate and loving to these kids, or get the test scores up so we don’t lose our jobs over the newest teacher evaluation tools,” she wrote in her letter to the staff.

To the parents and guardians of her students, she explained that it has nothing to do with the children and everything to do with what is happening in education, including all the mandates and testing.

Oswald plans to go to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where her daughter lives, and look for a job. Her husband, Gary Oswald, will stay on as the principal at the middle school and will follow her in a couple of years or so, she said.

“I would like to be a nanny,” she said. She really loves to hug children, she added.

Math teacher Jayne Flagg of Jay has accepted a position as math teacher at the Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay.

“I am excited to go down there. It will be closer,” she said, to where she lives.

She is unhappy with the new math curriculum, Engage NY, that is taught at Mt. Blue Middle School and the lower grades.

“We have a math curriculum that I don’t feel is that effective for students,” she said.

She wants to do what is best for students, she said.

Social studies teacher Nikki Adams said she loves teaching at the school.

She is going to help out with her family’s business part time, which will allow her to spend more time with her infant son.

“I am looking forward to that,” she said.

Science teacher Chris DeMarco of Kingfield, who is staying on in the district, said that teachers are feeling the pressure on educators from all over, including the state and federal governments.

“I can only speak to Maureen’s letter,” Superintendent Thomas Ward said.  “I have known Maureen for many years.  She has been a very dedicated teacher in our district.  The demands being placed on everyone in education, along with the limited resources, are a factor in their decision-making to leave their profession.  I wish her well.”

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