Former Falmouth teachers remembered for their service
FALMOUTH — Friends, family, teachers and students gathered in front of Falmouth High School June 6 to commemorate contributions made by two former teachers.
Both women, Gladys Hager and Virginia Peters, were long-time teachers in Falmouth schools, and continued to teach throughout their lives, helping to foster a program that connects students with their elders.
"Both of them possessed a gift at any given moment to make you feel like the most important person in the world," said Holly MacEwan, Falmouth High service learning coordinator, who organized the event.
The elderly women died in 2012 and were commemorated with speeches from friends and school staff at the event.
The service learning programs with seniors have been immensely popular with students, MacEwan said, noting that students often rate the experiences among the best of their school years.
The programs are multi-generational and include multiple meetings with elders every month, one of which is called, "Wisdom Tea." Elders also come in to work as "senior teachers," roles for which both Hager and Peters volunteered.
The two women taught in different capacities within the school system when they worked as teachers, but they both became active in the same elder programs in their retirements.
Hager, a Latin teacher, taught at the high school from 1957-1976 and helped build a program for the language that endures today. In 2005, she volunteered to become a senior teacher and participated in multiple capacities through OceanView retirement home.
Phillip Hobby, the high school's current Latin teacher, said Hager was a "beloved teacher" and that he religiously uses the books she donated to the school in his classes.
"I immediately latched onto those books," he said during a speech at the ceremony. "To say that Gladys' memory lives on is an understatement. ... I'm absolutely indebted to Gladys Hager."
Peters taught in a one-room schoolhouse on Blackstrap Hill in Falmouth for about six years in the 1930s and later taught at the former Baxter Elementary School in Portland.
MacGewan said Peters helped give the program a jump-start after it began in 1998 and was always eager to meet with students.
Marc Brann, who works in the assisted living center at OceanView, said Peters immediately befriended him after he began working at the senior center.
"Ginny was the epitome of a teacher. She was a teacher in her soul," he said, adding that her teaching skills went beyond the classroom and into life. "We all have been blessed to know these extraordinary women."
Superintendent Barbara Powers said the while Falmouth schools often are ranked among the best in the state and country, its programs such as senior teaching that helps them stand out.
"What set our schools apart are our service learning programs," she said at the ceremony. "I think this connection has lent itself so beautifully to that."