Congratulations to this year’s retirees!

The end of every school year is always bittersweet.  In addition to our students who move up and move on, every year sees us saying goodbye to a number of colleagues who are also wrapping up their journey at RSU 18. We wanted to take a few moments to acknowledge this year’s retirees.

Atwood Retirees

By Principal Jennifer McGee

For the past 39 years, Scott Colby has been the rock star physical education teacher for all of the children of our Oakland elementary schools!  His “classroom”, the gym or the fields outside, are always alive with safe, purposeful, fun, and engaging activity! The children squeal with laughter and they completely love all of the fun and games…while Mr. Colby intentionally sneaks in all of his important learning targets for the children and their skill building!

Mr. Colby has given his time, energy, fun-loving spirit and enthusiasm to our children for over three decades.  Mr. Colby’s easy laugh, calm demeanor, and light-hearted personality will be missed by all of the children, by all of his colleagues, and by all of our school families. He has given Oakland the gift of teaching children, ALL children, movement, exercise and that staying fit is, and should be, FUN!

We wish Mr. Colby well in his retirement. We hope he finds the well-deserved time to do the things he loves:  spend time with his wife, his children, and his grandchildren, read, enjoy sports and friends, travel, work on his farm, and PLAY!


China Primary Retirees

By Principal Darlene Pietz

Nancy Pfeiffer has been part of the CPS staff for twenty-nine years. During those years, she has provided instructional support to students in the Title I program and has also assisted in the Title I summer program for the last seventeen years. Nancy has truly enjoyed working with young children. When asked about what brings a smile to her face each day, she replied, “hugs”. She marvels at the growth she sees in the students each year. Nancy and her husband, Al, live in China with their golden retriever. She has two children and three grandchildren. Every day from early spring into late fall you can find Nancy tending her gardens. Enter her home and you most likely will walk on one of her beautiful braided rugs. She enjoys “crafting” and creating. Nancy will miss the children and staff but is looking forward to spending more time doing the many things she enjoys. 

Brenda MacDonald came to China Primary School five years ago. Her teaching career has spanned thirty-nine years in the area of special education. Her first year of teaching was at the Passamaquoddy Pleasant Point Indian Reservation and most of her teaching years were in the Auburn schools working with students in grades K-6. Brenda enjoys teaching primarily because of the human connections and relationships she builds with students and adults. Recently, a former student contacted Brenda through Facebook. He shared with her that his mother had kept a book that Brenda had given him when he was in the third grade. Brenda had written a message in the book wishing him the best in grade four. He wanted to tell her that today he is married, has two children and is a practicing physician. He thanked her for the support she had given him in his early years. Brenda has also always been excited about the learning that goes on each day….her own! Brenda has two sons and a one-year-old grandson. She plans to spend more time with family and doing what she enjoys. Running, physical fitness, dancing, sewing, reading, and gardening are just some of those pleasures. She will be busy!

Jon Garrity has taught physical education classes for the last thirty-four years. Twenty-nine of those years were spent at the China schools. A countless number of children have joined Jon in the gym over the years with the average yearly number over 200 students! For several years, in addition to teaching, he served as the athletic director. Jon has also coached many track, basketball, soccer and baseball teams. He stopped coaching when his own children started high school so he would be able to watch them play. According to Jon the best part of teaching is sharing in a student’s success. He shared a recent moment about a student who repeatedly missed catching a ball because he looked away each time someone tossed it, fearful he would be hit. Jon encouraged him to watch the ball and assured him that by watching it he could control it. The young boy tried keeping his eye on the ball and he caught it! He was so excited he wanted to do it again and again! Jon and his wife Betsy have four children and a 14-month-old granddaughter. Jon loves to golf, working around his very “green” home and being a grandfather. His retirement will allow him to spend more time doing what he loves.  

Messalonske High School Retirees

By Principal Paula Callan

Pam Elwell– Every school has that one person who is the “go-to” in many situations. Pam is that person for MHS. Whether your laptop has taken on a personality of its own or you need some form of technological assistance, Pam is the one to reach out to. Although Pam’s position is that of IT support, she wears many hats; she is a teacher, a confidant, an advisor, a true MHS Eagle, and someone we will truly miss here at Messalonskee.

Paula Michaud– Paula’s classes are always in high demand and I believe that is because she is very welcoming and accepting of all students. She gets to know her students on a personal level and is supportive of their endeavors outside of her classroom. Although she is retiring, the good news is that she will be returning to MHS and continue to teach American Sign Language to our students. We look forward to welcoming her back in the fall.

James H. Bean Retirees

By Principal Erica St.Peter

“And so, the adventure begins…” On any given day, Debra Klinge can be found on the James H. Bean school playground establishing and nurturing connections with our students, laughing with our students, and, most importantly, caring for our students. Mrs. Klinge began her time at Bean in the kitchen preparing breakfasts and lunches. She moved on to become a bus monitor for a year, and then to her final job, playground monitor. She has been monitoring the playground before school, during school, and after school for the last 10 years. Before joining the Bean Team, Mrs. Klinge spent her days being a mom to her four children, Olivia, Jen, Dan, and Abby and ran her own housecleaning business. When asked what she will miss most about working at JHB, Mrs. Klinge didn’t hesitate when she said, “The kids.” She will miss interacting with them and witnessing their fun, silly ways. She has enjoyed watching them grow from shy, young kindergartners into thoughtful, mature seniors. Mrs. Klinge’s post-Bean plans include helping her son run his chip business. She is looking forward to spending more time with her seven grandchildren, as she will be helping watch them during the day. The students and staff will certainly miss seeing Mrs. Klinge’s smiling face each day and hearing her patient voice on the playground.

Liz Tonge has quietly been working her magic with James H. Bean School’s youngest learners for the past fourteen years. Before bringing her talents to RSU 18, Liz began her work with children at the Montessori School in Skowhegan. In 1998, Liz implemented and ran a pilot program for public Pre-K within RSU 18. In 2005, she split her days between the Pre-K programs at Belgrade Central School and the JHB until she became the full-time Pre-K teacher at  JHB the following year. Liz will take with her fond memories of the nature trail that sparked interest and joy for her and her students as she strived to get them outside and nurture their attachments to nature. It is her hope that as they grow up they will devote their efforts to taking care of and protecting our Earth. Liz will continue to cultivate her love for nature and hiking by serving on the Stewardship Committee for the 7 Lakes Alliance.

RSU 18 feels like family to Liz as she had three children attend RSU 18 schools and has a special fondness for the staff across the district. Although Liz will no longer be in the classroom, her work with Maine’s youngest learners will continue as she serves on the board of the Maine Association For The Education of Young Children and is a Teacher Trainer for the Maine Roads To Quality.  Liz is looking forward to spending time with her grandchild, Neil, and traveling.

Hopefully, Liz’s retirement will be the beginning of her working on living instead of living to work!


District retirees

By Cheryl Mercier

Deborah Wheawill has worn many different hats during her years of service at RSU 18 and has done an outstanding job with each one. Her roles have included composite room educator, site manager, and special education teacher leader. She has always been positive and professional whether working with some of the District’s more challenging students, sharing ideas and strategies with colleagues, interfacing with outside agencies, or chairing IEP meetings. Deb approaches situations with a calm, quiet confidence that often helps to diffuse over-reactions and tempers. She is able to maintain a neutral face and quiet voice even when she is agitated, a skill we all would like to possess. Deb is a detail-oriented person when reviewing IEPs, writing IEP minutes, responding to e-mails, and gathering information/materials people have requested. She completes these tasks in a timely fashion so people are not having to chase her down to get responses.


By Shannon Bizier

Each spring, our handicap bus driver brings his crew out for ice cream to celebrate the end of a great year. This year, he will do the same, but sadly, it will be for the last time. The word, “selfless” comes to mind when thinking of driver, Art Jones. Art will be retiring after 14 years of dedicated service to the RSU 18 Transportation Department. He will be missed by all who were lucky enough to work with him or ride his bus. The drivers will miss coming in on snowy mornings to a bus that was not only started and running, but all cleaned off for them. The mechanics and transportation office will miss his loveable crankiness and the surprise goodies he prepared on his ever-ready grill. He and his partner, Kathy, would cook and serve breakfasts and lunches at the garage for the entire transportation department, administration and town crew to enjoy several times a year. Art’s bus aides, students, and parents will probably miss Art most of all. He was known to go out of his way for “his kids”. Whether it was starting his run early or ending late for a student, driving the fishing club from the Middle School or letting swim kids hop his bus to go to the Alfond, Art would do anything he could to make his students and co-workers happy. We wish him the best in his retirement!

Gerald Roderick worked with RSU 18 for just over a decade. He started with us as a custodian at James Bean School in 2008-09 and transferred to WES in 2010 where he stayed until last fall. He finished out his time at RSU 18 at MMS and retired at the end of April. We wish him all the best in his retirement.


A few of our more private retirees opted not to be included in this piece.  To all of the wonderful staff members moving on to retirement this year: thank you for all your years of service and for all you’ve done for our students. Congratulations and we wish you all the best.



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