Yarmouth principal to retire after 35 years in education

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YARMOUTH — Yarmouth Elementary School principal Betsy Lane will retire after 30 years with the School Department.

Lane, 65, announced last month that she will be stepping down at the end of the school year. Her last day will be June 30.

“It’s a school that’s running very well and it’s in a good place for me to leave,” Lane said Monday. “It’s a school that every child deserves.”

Lane, who has worked in Maine schools for 35 years, started working at YES in 1987 as a third-grade teacher. In 1999, she became the assistant principal of Frank Harrison Middle School and was named principal of YES in 2009.

The Yarmouth resident said she had been thinking about retirement over the past couple of years and finally realized she is ready.

“When I decided, all of a sudden it seemed right,” she said. “This is the right time for me.”

In retirement, Lane said she wants spend more time outdoors and with her grandchildren. She said she’s looking forward to spending her time as she pleases and “having choices.”

“It doesn’t seem like retiring to me,” she said. “I’m just starting something new.”

Being an elementary school principal, she noted, always required doing something new.

“I love the variety,” Lane said. “You have your day all planned in your mind, but it’s never ever what you think it’ll be.”

While Lane has appreciated having a job that has allowed her to “be creative and problem solve,” she said the best part has been being with the students. From “funny” and “endearing” to “honest” and “sincere,” Lane couldn’t stop finding ways to describe the children she works with.

“My interaction with kids has always been my favorite part of the job,” she said. “They challenge me everyday, and I think that’s good for me.”

A challenge that Lane sees again and again is “making the school environment work for everyone … both academically and socially.” She said she’s always tried to do what’s best for the students.

“We don’t keep kids in boxes,” she said. “We always try to see if there’s another way to look at it.”

Doing this requires understanding each student as an individual, which Lane enjoys. She’s always appreciated that about Yarmouth, where all of the staff and administrators know every student by name.

While she’s had hundreds of students over the years, including the children of former students, Lane said it’s been easy to get to know them because of how approachable she is.

“My presence is around the school,” she said. “The kids see me in the cafeteria, they see me in the halls, in the classroom, on the playground.”

They also see her in her office, but not always for disciplinary reasons. Students often eat lunch in Lane’s office, do homework there, or gather for club meetings.

Lane said she likes being accessible to her students and supporting them, and hopes her replacement will also be available to students, as well as to staff and parents.

“The advice I would give is to be a good listener,” she said. “Just listen.”

Superintendent Andrew Dolloff and the School Committee are expected to begin looking for Lane’s replacement at the end of the month. Dolloff, in a press release last month, said Lane’s influence on the school and the district will be missed.

“Aside from her wealth of knowledge about Yarmouth’s educational traditions, Betsy has brought to school each day a love of learning and a respect for children and families that has set the tone for a comfortable learning environment,” he said.

Lane said she’s grateful for the time she’s spent at Yarmouth schools and that being the principal of YES has been a rewarding experience.

“This has been an excellent place to work,” she said. “I’ve had a wonderful career.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Yarmouth Elementary School Principal Betsy Lane in her office with a group of fourth-grade chess club members. Lane will be retiring June 30 after 30 years with the Yarmouth School Department.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.