RSU 18 has been fortunate to receive many awards and recognitions over the last few years. While these recognitions do us proud, one thing speaks even louder as a testament to the success of RSU 18 and that is the number of graduates from our district who feel the desire and drive to return to work in our halls. From custodians, to administrative assistants, to educators of all levels, RSU 18 has at least 68 alumni working for the district.
Alumni on staff cited several reasons that drew them back to seek employment in the district: the strong curriculum and extracurricular programs, the dedication to students, the sense of community, or simply the positive memories they had of their own time in the district. We have alumni working in the district who have never lived outside of it and others who commute from an hour away just to be here. For some, choosing a district job was about the convenience of being near family or having hours that lined up with their children’s schedules; for others, it was a call to give back to the district they grew up in. “I loved my experience as a learner in RSU 18 and I wanted to work in a community that was always trying to do what’s best for kids in and out of the classroom,” said MMS Science and Math teacher Lindsay Mahoney.
Not all of them started their careers here, but they knew where they wanted to end up. “I had enjoyed teaching in another district,” said MHS Spanish teacher Karalynn Gibson, “but coming to work at MHS was like coming home.” This sense of homecoming is echoed by many of the alumni that I spoke with and an even greater number used the word pride. “I am a proud Eagle,” said MHS Special Education teacher Jacqueline Bouchard, “and even more proud that my sons and I share this alma mater!”
It might seem that there would be some initial awkwardness in having your former teachers as colleagues, but for most of the alumni in the district, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. “All my former teachers both within and outside of the department were welcoming, supportive, helpful, and encouraging,” said Ms. Gibson. “I was always treated as an equal colleague, right from the start, and have even been encouraged to take leadership roles.”
Such mentorship on behalf of district educators plays a big role in drawing alumni back to the district. “As a student, I knew the teachers cared about my success. They were invested in helping students succeed,” said Belgrade Central 5th grade teacher Chena LaBelle. “It’s still like that now. This district encourages, supports, and cares for each other, students and staff!” For others, one particular mentor stands out and drives the desire to give back. Williams Librarian Rosemary Smith spoke of how she struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia until her first-grade teacher recognized the issue and gave her the help she needed. “Miss Guerette gave me the world when she taught me to read and I can’t begin to thank her enough,” said Ms. Smith. “Reading has become my solace, my entertainment, my saving grace– and lead to my career as a librarian where I hope I can help just one child the way Miss Guerette helped me.”
Superintendent Gary Smith hopes that the tradition of RSU 18 staff inspiring the next generation to seek work within the district is one that will continue.
“We are fortunate to have so many former students choosing to live and work in our District,” said Superintendent Gary Smith. “The paths that drove them to chose to work here are all different, but the daily interactions with our students pay handsome dividends and that is what turns a job into a calling!