WINDHAM – The Maine American Legion has named Donna Morton State Educator of the Year, providing a celebratory ending to the fourth-grade teacher’s 37-year career at the Manchester School in Windham.

The Legion honored Morton at its 96th annual state convention in Bangor on June 14, just four days before her official retirement.

“A dynamo, always on the go, this woman does it all,” said Windham Legionnaire Dave Tanguay. “Wife, mother of two, Scout leader, environmentalist, athletic, political organizer, grant writer, and the teacher every parent wants their child to have.”

As a child, Morton attended Windham’s Arlington School, which was replaced by the Manchester School in 1972. Morton has taught fourth grade for her entire career. Morton’s educational vision is that every student has potential and that learning should be fun, she said.

“You have to love each of them for their individual personalities,” Morton said. “I teach them that whatever challenge in life, do the best you can.”

Morton said that one of her favorite quotes is, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

“That’s a big quote that I love, a philosophical quote for me,” Morton said. “Push that they do their best, and help each other, be kind to each other, help each other grow, help each other learn. I guess a big piece is to have fun when you’re learning, make it fun.”

In a March 10 letter to Morton, American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 Commander Mel Greenier notified her that the Windham-based post would nominate her for the state award.

“You have a very strong resume and are well respected by your fellow teachers,” Greenier wrote. “The Field-Allen post would like to recognize you for your great works both at school and in the local community.”

Morton has participated in a variety of programs and projects. She has worked as a statewide trainer for Maine’s Laptop program, written grants for the Windham public schools, and enlisted her class in an effort to build a model covered bridge spanning a gully between the school property and the town’s library. Morton is a fundraiser for the Windham Land Trust, coordinates a line-dancing program for Windham Adult Education, and is active in Project Linus, a program that provides quilts for the terminally ill.

According to Greenier, the Windham Legion has never nominated a teacher for the state award before.

“The American Legion recognizes the educator of the year, EMT of the year, fireman of the year, law enforcement officer of the year, Eagle Scout of the year and we have never really participated in that,” Greenier said. “We want to participate in all these programs, and the first time we participated we hit a home run with Donna Morton.”

Morton said she was grateful to the Legion for the honor. She also thanked her husband, Dave Morton, the Casco town manager, as well as her son, Ben, and daughter, Jenny, for their support.

Morton looks back with fondness on her four decades in Windham schools.

“I just love this town – love it, love the people,” Morton said. “I have family and friends. It’s home. And fourth grade, there’s nothing better than fourth-graders. They love to learn, you can sing, you can do a play. So they’re just fun to be with. Fun to learn with. We learn together. They teach me something new every day. They’re so creative and fun. They love learning.”

Donna Morton, a retiring fourth-grade teacher at the Manchester School in Windham is awarded the State American Legion Educator of the Year award.  

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