SACO — The Saco school community is mourning the loss of a beloved teacher.

Robin Stinson, 47, died Monday after experiencing a medical problem while driving home on the Maine Turnpike around 4 p.m. No one else was injured.

Robin Stinson Facebook photo via Journal Tribune

Stinson was a sixth-grade English Language Arts teacher at Saco Middle School. She started working in the Saco school system in 1997 and at Saco Middle School a year later. Her husband, Timothy, is a principal at Line Elementary School in West Newfield.

Classes at Saco Middle School were canceled Tuesday.

“The Saco school community is very saddened,” said Saco Superintendent of Schools Dominic DePatsy in a letter to parents.

Perian Carpenter of Saco, a substitute teacher at Saco Middle School many years ago, said Stinson encouraged students to do their best, and taught them that mistakes were OK as long as you learned from them. The students loved her, Carpenter said.

“She was understanding, thoughtful, empathetic and just an all around caring friend. Even though I didn’t continue in the education field I’ve applied a lot of her advice in my life,” said Carpenter.

“She was just a fantastic teacher, who went above and beyond for every student,” said Stephanie Letellier of Rollingsford, New Hampshire, a student of Stinson’s about 12 years ago. Letellier pursued a teaching career, and now teaches in Eliot.

“She pushed us to be the best we could be. I liked that about her,” Letellier continued. “She made us strive for things that we never thought we could achieve.”

Heather Prejean of Saco said her daughter Rylie, a student of Stinson’s, said her teacher loved sunflowers. Prejean changed her Facebook profile picture to a sunflower Tuesday and encouraged others to do the same.

“Mrs. Stinson was a great supporter of her students. She helped some through some very tough times. She had a loud laugh that was often contagious and got the class laughing with her. I hugged her goodbye that day – not knowing it would be our last,” said Rylie.

Others followed Prejean’s advice and changed their Facebook picture to a sunflower, including Beth Ashburn Day.

“Showing support for the Stinson family in memory of Robin. She will be missed,” Day wrote in her Facebook post.

Lindsay DesRoberts, who was in Stinson’s class last year, told News Center Maine (WCSH-TV) she was shocked that Stinson had died.

“It was really hard. I went to her for a bunch of stuff, and it was heartbreaking,” DesRoberts said. “I immediately started crying because I thought of all the good memories we had.”

Gabby Nadeau, a junior at Thornton Academy in Saco, had Stinson as a teacher in middle school.

“I was shocked and very sad to hear about Mrs. Stinson,” Nadeau said in a Tuesday evening text message. “Not only was she a great teacher but also a mother figure to many. She cared deeply for her students.”

Counselors will be on hand Wednesday to offer assistance, according to DePatsy. There will also be a memory wall for students to write and students will be encouraged to write a card to Stinson’s family, said DePatsy in the letter.

Other resources for parents include The Center for Grieving Children, which can be reached at 775-5216​ to discuss concerns, receive written information or enroll a child in a grief support group, and 777-HELP, a 24-hour hot line parents can call if their child needs immediate assistance.

Journal Tribune Staff Writer Tammy Wells and Press Herald Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 780-9015 or at:

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