Diana Crosby still remembers the day when Richard Valdmanis came into her first-grade classroom in knickers and heavy red sweater with a bouquet of sea lavender in his hand. It was a Christmas present for his favorite teacher, and she was touched.

Twenty years later, Crosby was touched again when Valdmanis’ mother asked her to come to the rehearsal dinner for her son’s wedding. At the dinner, Crosby, recounting the day Valdmanis came in with his Christmas gift, held in her hands the same bouquet of sea lavender that she had kept for over two decades.

“Everyone just about flipped,” Crosby recalled. “Richard came up to me and said, ‘I don’t believe this. You really are special.'”

After 34 years of teaching kindergarten, first and second grades in Scarborough, Crosby has countless memories of students, both from being in the classroom and from reconnecting with them throughout their lives. And just as she remembers the face of each of the more than 700 children she has taught, they remember her. Crosby has worked at several schools throughout the district, but she started at Eight Corners School, and that is where she will finish. At the end of this year, Crosby is retiring.

“It’s coming to an end,” Crosby said. “I’ve had a wonderful journey.”

According to Eight Corners Principal Anne Marley, even though her career is about to end, Crosby hasn’t slowed down one bit.

“She’s got more energy than most of us in the building,” Marley said.

Crosby lives in Gorham with her husband, Doug, and they are the parents of two grown sons. She said she hasn’t made any plans for her retirement, other than to take each day as it comes – and maybe write a children’s book. What she doesn’t want to do is to get ahead of herself.

“Right now, I’m still teaching,” she said.

As her kindergartners filed into class Friday morning, Crosby greeted each one of them individually.

“She makes kids feel extremely special,” Marley said.

Crosby said the most important thing an adult can do for children is to make time to listen to what they have to say. She said children learn different rates, and her goal is to meet the needs of each child at each individual level. By devoting so much of her time to each student, she has been rewarded by seeing them flourish throughout their high school careers and beyond.

“I’ve never seen more kids come back and visit a teacher,” Marley said.

Crosby said one of her favorite parts of her job is meeting her students’ families. In some cases, it’s a particularly special experience. According to Marley, on several occasions Crosby’s former students have called in and requested that their children be placed in her class.

Kathy Morrissette, 38, did just that when her three daughters, Peyton, 12, Lily, 9, and and Greta, 8, entered Eight Corners. Nearly 30 years after leaving Crosby’s classroom, Morrissette returned as a parent volunteer – an experience Crosby called “extra special.”

Morrissette remembers Crosby as being a young, cool and fun teacher. As a parent, Morrissette is even more appreciative of Crosby. She has seen how Crosby can turn every situation into a lesson for her students. Morrissette said her daughters developed the same fondness for Crosby as she did. and continue to visit her now that they’re older.

“It’s always a big treat to see Mrs. Crosby,” Morrissette said. “She’ll be missed.”

Teacher closing books on ‘wonderful journey’Teacher closing books on ‘wonderful journey’

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