LEWISTON — When Kathy Jalbert started her first teaching job in 1980, she did not know it was the beginning of a career that would span over four decades.

Looking back, she believes things have changed tremendously in the years since.

Her career began in a special education classroom for autistic children in the early ’80s. While she co-taught with a teacher at the high school level and enjoyed it, she wanted a full classroom. 

“We had two older boys who were autistic,” she recalled. “I was hired because I had a speech correction background. That was wonderful, but the one-on-one was just not cutting it for me.”

What brought her to Catholic teaching was a happy coincidence.

Her daughters were attending St. Joseph’s School in Lewiston at the time. She wanted to spend more time with them.


Kathy Jalbert teaches students at St. Joseph’s School in Lewiston. Kathy Jalbert

As it happened, St. Joseph’s second grade teacher was leaving.

Jalbert was hired for the position and later moved to first grade.

“I co-taught with a nun, Sister Monica,” she said. “That was the beginning of the most wonderful career. I wanted to be in an environment where I could teach the same way I was raising my children. God was in our life. I wanted to be in that environment.”

At the end of her long-running career, she said teaching never felt like a job.

“Sometimes I’d stay at school until it was dark, planning and prepping and all those lovely things. I never blinked an eye. It’s been that way until my retirement,” she said.

She was happy with her decision to teach at a school her children attended, even if it meant more responsibility.


“I had to wear two hats at times, to be the teacher and the parent and then mother at home,” she recalled. She said she was thankful to often be involved in her children’s classroom activities. “It was good to be a part of that community.”

In 2006, when St. Joseph’s consolidated with other Catholic schools in the area, she was heartbroken to see colleagues go. Navigating that change was difficult, she said.

However, a St. Joseph’s tradition stands out to her years later, continuing today at St. Dominic’s. The Thanksgiving and Christmas plays would always make great memories for everyone involved.

Kathy Jalbert enjoys Christmas with her students at Saint Joseph’s School in Lewiston. Kathy Jalbert

“To retell that story, to hear their lines, and to see how proud they were always made a difference on how they performed in the classroom later. It gave them so much confidence, so much,” Jalbert said.

Across the hall, second grade teacher Lisa Williams is continuing the tradition.

After over four decades of teaching, Jalbert believes some things are  the same.

“Every morning, kids still come through the door with smiles on their faces, no matter what the day brought prior,” she said. “Ready to learn, bright eyes, just sponges ready to take in the day. Even through the pandemic, you’d hear about their pets or the tooth that they lost or the same thing that I would hear in the classroom.”

While Jalbert wants to devote more time to her grandchildren and hobbies, she plans to remain involved with the school and the community.

“It’s time to pass the torch but I did tell everybody when I left, I said, ‘It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later.'”

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