In Her Words
Candid Profiles of Strength Told by the Women of Northbridge
Throughout the month of March, we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.
Jacqueline's Story (Resident of Stroudwater Lodge Senior Living)
I was born in Berlin, New Hampshire on March 24, 1936, in the middle of a flood. At 6 weeks old, we moved to Lebanon. We continued to move frequently as my dad was transferred. We lived in Norwich, CT, Providence, RI, Burlington, VT, Worchester and Boston, MA. As it got close to the time I should be starting school, my folks decided to move to South Portland, Maine and dad would run a grocery store in Portland. We lived there until I was 11.
Then, dad purchased a store in West Falmouth that had an apartment upstairs. The town of Falmouth had the 7th through the 12th grades in the old high school. We had a small class and I was active in basketball, softball, yearbook and swimming. I received a scholarship to the University of Southern Maine, where I stayed in the dorm. I worked in the dining room and was very active in sports. The basketball coach asked me to try out for the foul shooting contest. I won getting 49 out of 50 shots.
At a sports field day, I was asked to double date with two guys from a Junior College. That’s where I met my husband, Dave. I decided to quit college, work for Union Mutual, and get married. We built our own house and started a family. We had six children. Debbie, our oldest, had bright yellow hair and was a lady thru and thru. Bonnie, was the second child, and had dark hair and flashing eyes, a Tom Boy. Lisa, came next, with light brown hair and a gorgeous smile, Wendy, came next, the imp of the family. Her sisters waited on her hand and foot. Then came Robert, an entrepreneur at 7, purchasing a lawn mower to make money. At 30 days old we almost lost him to pyloric stenosis. Then came Ricky, who we lost in child birth.
The Portland Department of Education opened up a few jobs in the schools for Teacher Assistants. I was offered one of the jobs as a Teacher’s Assistant in the Jackson School, which was an inner-city school, that was considered low income. I learned much about teaching from the educators in that school. My principal saw my potential and gave me money to go back to school. I gave up my job and went back to school full time. I finished 3 years of college in 2 years and received high honors while managing a household with 5 children.
When Rob was of Little League age, I became the first Woman’s Little League Coach in the State of Maine. It was a very exciting time, hollering, “slide”, “run”, “hit that ball”, with a group of 9-12-year-old boys. One evening I was walking to the store and met two boys and one of them spoke to me. When the other boy said to him, “Who is that lady?” “That’s no lady, that’s my coach!”
My dad was very competitive and I took after him. The Math Director position was opened and I applied. I competed against a man that had two doctorate degrees and I was offered the position. For 5 years, I was the Math Director, managing a new gifted and talented math program for 6th – 12th grades and all other math and computer programs. I quickly learned about computers, reading and learning in my spare time. I also managed the Logo program, working with Seymour Papert from MIT. He was an amazing man and we soon became friends.
The next opportunity came unexpectedly when the math coordinator position came opened. I applied and got the job again, an Elementary School teacher fighting for a higher position. In the meantime, I was an Officer in the NE Math Organization, the Maine Math Organization, the board of Natural Supervisors of Mathematics and was appointed by the NCTM’s President to be the Eastern Representative on the NCTM’s Regional Committee. These all kept me learning new things about Mathematics. My responsibility was to represent NCTM as the Math Meetings in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and all the 6 New England states.
While I was President of the State Supervisors, I represented NCTM on the CBMS Board, a group of prestigious people who represented math organizations all over the country. One of the responsibilities was to run the International Olympiads, which was responsible for running a mathematics competition for students’ teams all over the world., select a site and plan the whole program. I became secretary of this endeavor. Each team had six students and two coaches. The students were housed at George Mason College and the coaches were housed in DC. They had to be separated from the students as they had to write all of the questions for the two-day competition. I selected to stay at the place with the students, and became very attached to the Uzbekistan Team. One of their students, Nozim, called me his dear American Grandmother. I learned so much from these 600+ students.
On the first day, we took all of the students on the Potomac for a cruise down the river for the 4th of July fireworks. When the last ship docked, a boy from Iran fell in the river. Luckily the crews were handy, and pulled him out. I got to take him to the eye doctor, and the first English he learned was “Handsome Photograph”. Which as the photographer of the event, I kept saying to him as I snapped his picture.
Because I helped the Scottish team learn the ropes, as they were hosting the next competition, they invited Betty and I, who also helped them, to attend their competition. We decided to meet in Brussels and I went over early to see that part of the world. I stayed in a hotel called “Art Noveau”, because they had art all over their hotel. I had sculptures in my room, and cartoons in my corridor. I wandered around and made many friends, including two waiters in a restaurant across the street which I frequented. One of the waiters was recently from Argentina, I took several pictures of him to send to his family. He said when he got rich he would share his wealth with me. I guess he never got rich because, I haven’t received anything from him.
I met Betty and we channeled up through France & England. At the stop for France I ran off with the conductor chasing me. “Wait!”, he said “This is not your stop”, “I know”, I replied, “I just want to say I was in France”. We stopped in Burnley, England, because I saved little ceramic rabbits which were made there. We then proceeded to Scotland. In Scotland, we were treated like royalty with many excursions throughout Scotland “what a magnificent & beautiful country”.
Throughout the years, I attended many conferences again and learned much from my colleagues. In a DC conference, one of the NCTM organizers needed some pictures for a job he was trying for. He went to his room and got a couple of suits, shirts and ties. I took lots of pictures, and as I left the foyer where I took the pictures. One of the security guards told another, “Leave those people alone. He is a famous person, and she is his private photographer.
One other honor I had was that I was named to the NCTM Elections & Nominations Board and on the third year got to chair, this is a very prestigious committee. My responsibilities were selecting people to run for various NCTM positions, including president. I also selected the two places we met, Phoenix and Vancouver, this committee was very prestigious.
I was also asked to do the keynote speech in Puerto Rico. I had a friend who was fluent in Spanish tape my talk. I practiced going to work, and learned my whole talk in Spanish. People there loved that I made the effort.
In between these adventures I visited all 50 states, with about 50 to 100 visits to Washington DC. The reason I visited DC so often was we had received a 10 million dollar grant to enhance our schools ‘Math & Science’ programs from the ‘Science Foundation’. There was a struggle on who would control this grant and the dollars. One day when I was talking to our contact at the foundation I was moaning about the fighting between factors. His comment was, “there will always be blood”. To which my reply was “I didn’t care as long as it wasn’t all mine.” One of the most rewarding feats of this grant was the working with Bob, President of Bowdoin College. We had many meetings at Bowdoin College. What a fantastic man he was. He was one of my mentors.
During my visit to various states I climbed mountains, hiked through canyons and fields of flowers, what beauty. My favorite state was Utah, with ‘Bryce Canyon’ & ‘The Arches’. My photograph pile grew very large.
My next adventure was going to Galapagos. A friend and I found a woman’s group who was going there. She flew from California, and I flew from Maine to Miami. We had our baggage shrink wrapped, a new experience. When we arrived in Ecuador there was a cou going on and we were frisked by security and shaken down for money. Our guide, Liz, spoke fluent Spanish and prevented this from happening. We spent day in Ecuador and then hopped a plane to start our journey on the Tip Top III, the ship that would takes us to the 12 islands. The passengers’ spoke 12 languages and were from all over the world.
Our ship guide was an architect and had to go through two years of training. The captain of our ship was originally born on one of the islands. Going on each island, it was either wet or dry landing, which meant we could either go into the water or step out on land.
We saw amazing things, Blue Footed Boobies mating right on the path ahead of you, Sally Light-Footed Crabs lying on rocks. Many of whom were different, all having adapted to their island. Flightless Cormorants, Frigate birds who couldn’t get their own food, they had to wrestle it from other birds. The male had a big red pouch on his neck and blew it up to attract the females and seals that would swim around in the water.
I dove off the fender and the little seals were looking at me through my mask. There were marine and land iguanas, turtles, huge and small, who would scramble out of their nests for the water. Masked Boobies lava tubes to climb in and Lava Lizards and Vermilion Flycatchers.
Post Office Bay, where you left a letter addressed to someone and took letters you saw were addressed to your area. We did this and saw two people from the LA area and one from Maine.
My hobbies are reading, sports, particularly baseball, basketball, hockey, football, photography, poetry, travel and my 15 great grandchildren.
Along the way, I received several awards that I’m very proud of.
- Phoenix Award – In recognition of the economic development of the State of Maine
- NCSN Award – for leadership in Maine Math & Science (for my vision in leading the state I a 10-million-dollar grant)
- ATOMIM Recognition Award – in appreciation for the unselfish & outstanding service and contribution made to Mathematics Education in Maine
- ETN National Award - in recognition for outstanding dedication, leadership and vision in the pursuit of excellence in Mathematics Education
- The Richard Balemends Ward – for outstanding leadership
- The Association of Presidential Award in Mathematics Science – for enthusiasm, passion and commitment to better mathematic education
- The State ATOMIM Jacqueline Mitchell Award – given to me in 1999. Each year after following I give to an outstanding mathematics teacher or educator
I wrote my resignation in my late 60’s and started to teach in private school sector. It was very rewarding to do this, but I ended up falling going up the stairs at my home and broke 6 ribs. I was out of commission quite a long time and at the end decided to really retire. The only thing I continued to do professionally was to stay active on the Maine Mathematics board, The NE Boards, and to attend the national and regional meetings.
I was invited to the White House dinner for the IMO students. “What Grandeur” I never had 6 forks in such a beautiful setting. I sat next to President Nixon one time, and President Clinton the next time.
After my husband developed lung cancer and became very ill and died, I visited Stroudwater Lodge. I immediately felt that this would be a place for me to visit with my daughter Wendy and my son Rob. All three of us loved this magnificent community. Wow, I felt this had all I wanted, friendly staff and people, many, many activities I would enjoy and a very nice apartment I could call my own. I went back a second day with Lisa and I knew when I walked up the entrance this was the place I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
Not only is everyone caring but these people will be my friends for the rest of my life. I love Stroudwater Lodge.
For more information about the wonderful way of life at Stroudwater Lodge, click here.