Susan Gray Woodward McGuffey, 66

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Suzanne Gray Woodward McGuffey, 66, died Feb. 21, two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

McGuffey taught many subjects during her tenure at the Learning Achievement Center and the Aucocisco School and Learning Center; math, the sciences, humanities in all its forms, foreign languages and sex education.

Her creative approach to teaching and learning made her a beloved educator. Her classroom was always filled with laughter. She welcomed everyone into her classroom and demanded the very best from each and every one of them.

McGuffey was born in St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 23, 1947, the daughter of Elizabeth Kennedy Woodward and George David Woodward. She attended Waynflete School, and held degrees from the University of Maine at Orono and the University of Southern Maine, graduating summa cum laude, with majors in French, German and early childhood education. McGuffey spoke Greek, Latin, and Russian, and could hold her own in most any romance language. She owned and operated the Giant Steps Preschool and was a Girl Scout leader for many years.

She was ambidextrous and dyslexic. Taught by her father at a young age to compensate for her own learning disabilities, McGuffey became the perfect teacher for students with different ways of learning. She was known by many of her students for teaching mathematics “upside down and backwards,” in a way that made sense to them and gave them confidence in their abilities.

McGuffey was a talented and published poet and was at work on her first mystery novel when she died. She wrote a poem every year for the graduating class at Aucocisco School. In addition, she was a talented photographer whose work had been in juried shows. She loved music of all kinds as well as art, having studied painting with Dahlov Ipcar as a child. She was an avid genealogist, who lived on a farm in North Yarmouth built by her great-great-great-grandfather, Isaac Skillin, in 1817, and documented her family’s history to a Roman senator.

McGuffey is survived by her daughter, Marie Burns and her husband, Cyril; grandsons Anthony and Alex, her fiance, Norman Paul Russell; brothers, Stephen Woodward and his wife, Doreen, and Robert (Woody) Woodward, and his wife, Dee; niece Tina; and nephews Daniel, Samuel and David.