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39 years of kindergarten—a veteran teacher is ready to retire

Andrea Powell will retire from teaching in the same room she attended kindergarten as a student at Bristol Consolidated School

BRISTOL, Maine — Andrea Powell quietly coaches her kindergarten class through counting, as she has done so many times before. For 39 years she has been teaching the youngest kids at Bristol Consolidated School.

But this Thursday, class is a bit different. This is the last full day for the school year, and for Powell, the last full day of her teaching career.

After 43 years of teaching, 39 of them at Bristol, she is retiring.

“I would have been tempted to stay and do 44 years, but it's time,” Powell said.

Powell began her career teaching second grade at Woolwich before the job opened close to home in Bristol. The job had extra meaning for the young teacher—she had attended the school herself as a child, and even sat in a kindergarten class in 1960, in the same room where she is wrapping up her long teaching career.

“We used to do fun things like hide in the bathroom and scare the kindergarten teacher,” she laughed during an interview with NEWS CENTER Maine.

She said the students are more tech-savvy these days, as evidenced by the 5-year-olds using tablets at their desks.

Aside from that, however, she says they are still kids, as they’ve been for all those years. Her goals for them, she says, are essentially unchanged: “to be a community of learners.”

“That’s my goal, that they be a community of learners. They will be together for (nearly) 16 years so we try to have a little fun. They know each other’s weaknesses, they know how to pick on one another but they also know how to comfort each other how to boost each other how to give that pat on the back.“

Friday is a half-day of classes and the last day of school for the 2020-2021 year. So on Thursday, just before recess, Andrea Powell’s students brought her a giant card and roses, one for each student. 

She said the reality of retirement may not hit until mid-August. 

“That’s when I usually gear up and think I need this or go in and start setting up.“

That won’t need to happen this August. She will be retired. But she will know those kids with the roses got a very good start in learning because, like so many before them, they began in Mrs. Powell’s room.