Love of children, family influence led teachers to their calling

By Stephen Betts | Jun 07, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts Teachers who were recognized for their decades of service were, from left, front: Lorrie Callaway and Pamela Walton; rear: Sharold Bowman, Debra Bernard, Anne Pietroski, Paul Desaulniers, Charles Gallagher, Ferolyn Curtis and Beverly Pacheco.

Owls Head — The teachers who will retire from the Rockland-area school system this month have similar stories of how they got into their profession.

Combined, the educators who were honored Thursday evening, June 7, by the Regional School Unit 13 Board have 320 years of experience.

Each said they loved working with children. Many said they knew from when they were young children that they wanted to teach. And some of them were following in the footsteps of their fathers.

Charles "Chuck" Gallagher is retiring after 22 years with first School Administrative District 5 and then the reconfigured RSU 13.

"This will be an end of era," he said, pointing out that there had been a Gallagher teaching in the school district for 52 of the past 54 years. His father, Jean Gallagher, taught for 30 years in SAD 5, retiring in 1993.

Chuck Gallagher's first teaching job was junior high science and math in 1977 at Holy Cross School in Lewiston.

He then joined the Navy and had a 25-year career in the service, retiring as a commander, before returning to teaching, this time in Rockland. He is completing his 22nd year in the district, teaching math at Oceanside Middle School in Thomaston.

While there will be no Gallagher teaching in the Rockland-area school system, there will still be a teacher in the Gallagher family. His son Brett is a second-grade teacher out of state.

Lorrie Callaway, a fifth-grade teacher at Owls Head Central School, is completing her 18th year in the district.

Her first job in education was as a special education teacher at School Union 90 in the Bradley area, starting in 1979. She came to the Rockland district in 2000.

Her father was a teacher at Central Maine Technical College in Auburn. While in high school, she volunteered to work with special education students.

Gilford Butler second-grade teacher Pamela Walton said she always wanted to be a teacher. She said she had been advised to do something else, but that she wanted to work with children.

Her first teaching job was in 1973 in Saint John, New Brunswick, where she grew up. She then held teaching jobs in the Bahamas before she came to the Rockland area, working first at Rockport Elementary School beginning in 1980. She is married to retired RSU 13 music teacher Richard Walton. They met while teaching in the Bahamas.

Pam Walton took 11 years off from teaching to be a mother and returned to teaching -- this time in the Rockland-area district -- in 1995.

She said her key to teaching was to take interest in each individual child. "I encourage them to aspire to be the best they can," she said.

Anne Pietroski is retiring after 31 years in the Rockland-area district. The high school gifted and talented teacher's first job was as an English teacher at Machias High School, starting in 1977.

Pietroski said she always had a love for the English language and for drama, which she taught when she was in Machias.

Paul Desaulniers is a science teacher at Oceanside High School who started with the district in 1997.

His first teaching job was with the Youth Conservation Corps in Rhode Island in 1978.

At that job, he found that many of the young people had not found success in their schools and he wanted to be in a school and help young people find success.

Teaching was a second career for Ferolyn Curtis. She worked as a nurse for 17 years and the family moved around a lot while her husband, Doug Curtis Jr., was in the military.

She went back to college when the family was living in North Carolina. Her first teaching job was in Germany, where she worked for the Department of Defense.

The family moved back to Rockland in 1993, when she started working for the Rockland-area school district at McLain School. She then was assigned to South Elementary School, the school that she attended as a child from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Debra Bernard is retiring after 33 years with the district as a special education teacher. She started at the Thomaston Grammar School in 1984.

"I always wanted to be a teacher. I would teach other kids in the second grade," Bernard said.

South School music teacher Beverly Pacheco's first job was at a parochial school in Dorchester, Mass. She moved to Maine in 1982. She is retiring after 10 years with the district and a total of 27 years in teaching.

She said when she was in school she was encouraged by a teacher to audition for a music festival. That and her love of the piano led her to enter the teaching profession.

High school special education teacher Sherold Bowman is retiring after 35 years locally and 37 years total in education.

Her first teaching job was at an alternative education school in Augusta.

The retiring teachers shared a frustration with the increase in paperwork, mandates and fewer teacher-driven initiatives for students since they entered the profession.

Walton said teachers now have to spend hours at night or on weekends analyzing data to try to show that what they are doing is resulting in better performance for students.

"There are so many more hoops," Walton said.

Desaulniers said in his early career, principals would tell teachers "You know what to do; do it." He said now there are too many top-down directives.

Bernard agreed that more time required for paperwork means less time for teaching.

Pietroski agreed that there were fewer teacher-driven initiatives allowed than when she started teaching.

Walton said, however, that she believed the district was in the best shape it had been in with the administration of Superintendent John McDonald and the new curriculum director, Steffany Tribou.

McDonald praised the teachers during Thursday evening's ceremony held at Owls Head Central School, which will also be retired at the end of the school year.

RSU 13 Board Chair Loren Andrews also praised the staff.

"You have shown amazing dedication. You have the most important job on the planet," Andrews told the faculty members.

Also retiring this year but not at the retirement ceremony were Oceanside Middle School guidance counselor Kevin Martin with 33 years in the district, Middle School Assistant Principal Edward Hastings with 36 years, and alternative education teacher William Palmer with 17 years with the district.

Teachers with 15 years or more of service were offered a rocking chair or a gift certificate at L.L. Bean.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Jun 10, 2018 04:07

Congratulations and Thank You for your service to our community. You all have touched hundreds of lives in ways you will never know.

Posted by: Margie Gerrish | Jun 09, 2018 00:54

Congrats to all of these dedicated professionals.  Their shoes will be very hard to fill.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Jun 08, 2018 08:10

It is a well recognized fact that the "love of Children and family" are the reasons that leed teachers to their calling.  Yet one might suggest that it is the " love of money, power and influence "that leed Superintendants and administrators to theirs. Which would explain why their employment contracts are approved at the wink of an eye and teachers contracts take considerably more time.  I think Govenor LePage is correct in wanting to invest our money in teachers and NOT in new schools and administrators

Posted by: Rosemarie Richter | Jun 08, 2018 07:58

Congratulations to you all on your retirement!  Your teaching experience along with your dedication will be missed.  Thanks for all you have done for my two RSU 13 boys.

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