TOWNSEND — When Kathie Maher’s daughter, Maureen, heard that Martha Stewart was going to be hosting a show that would recognize teachers, she jumped on the chance to celebrate her mother.
Maureen submitted a 500-word essay to the show about all her mother’s accomplishments and the incredible teacher and educator she has been over the years. The Martha Stewart show notified the pair and they both were invited to attend the show and be recognized. The mother and daughter stayed overnight in New York and went to the taping.
Jones of New York, a company that co-hosted this particular show, adopted Mrs. Maher’s classroom and will provide her with a wish-list of materials. In addition, Mrs. Maher received scarves, shirts, and Martha Stewart books while on the program. “It’s like being a child of a rock star, she’s practically famous, but she’s my mom. That’s the kind of impact she has had on people and myself,” added daughter Maureen.
Mrs. Maher’s other daughter, Kelly, feels her mom is a natural educator at her core who is passionate about teaching little children. Kelly feels it’s something you don’t see in all teachers. Mrs. Maher’s’ son, Christopher, thinks that most people think his mother’s ability to teach is effortless, however, he feels the truth is she works harder than anyone he knows. “She has always been a perpetual student herself, eager to learn from other teachers as well as her own students. She has earned advanced degrees in education, participates in workshops, attends conferences and continuously adjusts her lessons and approach based upon her experiences. My mom has always valued the satisfaction of seeing potential in someone that they don’t see, and then helping them live up to it,” shared Christopher Maher.
Kathie Maher started teaching right out of college, working in an elementary school in Chelmsford in 1969. She then got married to her husband, Tom, and a few years later, after having children, opened up a pre-school in Pepperell.
Maher returned to public school in 1980 as a Title 1 teacher at Peter Fitzpatrick School. She then was moved to a classroom at Hawthorne Book Middle School in Townsend, teaching English and social studies to seventh and eighth -graders. Maher then received a master’s degree with a specialty in science and moved to a self-contained fourth grade classroom. A few years later, Maher became the chairperson of the School District’s Math Curriculum; she worked with teachers to provide professional development in math and refine the district’s math curriculum to support National Standards and State Frameworks.
When Spaulding Elementary School reopened, Maher returned to the early childhood level and assumed the position of second-grade teacher where she has been teaching ever since. Maher has also been tutoring and providing summer camps in reading and math and science for 15 years and loves helping students break down the concepts that they are struggling with.
“I feel the best growth of a student learning comes from identifying student’s strengths and weaknesses early on in the year and working to move them as far as I can during the 180 days they are under my care. I believe that the needs of talented and gifted students must be met and they must be challenged and encouraged to push themselves to new levels of understanding and that students who have challenges that make learning more difficult should be guided to develop self-confidence. No wall or barrier is too difficult to overcome. Students should be given the opportunity to develop into lifelong learners who enjoy school and develop a thirst for more and more knowledge” said Mrs. Maher. Maher feels there should never be any surprises when the grades come home. Open communication with the parents throughout the whole school year is crucial for student development and by working together as a team, Mrs. Maher feels the students know we are trying to help them.
With the end of this school year comes retirement for Mrs. Maher. She is very apprehensive and not sure that the years to come will fulfill her as much as the years in the classroom. Maher looks forward to spending more time with her nine grandchildren and her husband, who is retired from the state police.
Principal Becky Janda will be sad to see her go. “She loves and puts everything she has into teaching. She loves teaching as much as she does leaving as when she first came in. Kathie has a high expectation for herself and works hard and she expects the same from her students. She expects them to enjoy it because she does. This summer we got a large box with all new math games sent to the school. We couldn’t figure out who it belonged too. We later found out Kathie had ordered it for the school, spending her own money. That’s what kind of person she is,” smiled Janda.
Deanna Fitzpatrick, assistant teacher, has worked with Maher for a number of years. Fitzpatrick said we are all often asked to reflect back on our school years and remember our favorite teacher who made a difference in our lives and she is sure Maher will be that teacher and will always be remembered by her students. “She is so wonderful and giving to all her students. Everything she does is done with her heart,” shared Fitzpatrick.
Maher has two former second -graders that are embarking on teaching careers this year. One is graduating this year from Worcester State College, Amanda Boudreau, and one is a senior at North Middlesex, Katie Silva, who is participating in the mentoring program that the High School is sponsoring. Maher has always taken student teachers because she feels it is the role of the teachers to mentor potential teachers who will follow in their footsteps. “She has always made me feel good about myself and has inspired me to become a teacher,” reflected Boudreau.
Second grader Amanda Mula thinks Mrs. Maher makes math fun. “When you do your math right you get a link. At the end of the month we have a “link off.” Whoever gets the most links gets a prize. I look forward to going to school,” boasted Mula.
“I think being a teacher is the most rewarding career in the world. I once heard an advertisement for adult education on the radio. It said “find a career you love and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.” I never think of myself as going to work in the morning. I love coming to Spaulding and enjoy sharing stories and experiences with my fellow teachers and peers. My closest bonds have been made with secretaries, paraprofessionals, custodians, nurses, and administration, for all of us have a role in the community of learning. I will miss these relationships next year,” reflected Maher.