Charles Gordon, a sociology and current events teacher at Brunswick High School, will retire after the upcoming school year. Taylor Abbott / The Forecaster

BRUNSWICK — A high school teacher will retire at the end of the new school year after a career that spanned more than half a century.

Charles Gordon at the beginning of his teaching career at Brunswick High School in the 1970s. Contributed

Charles Gordon began his career in 1969 at Windham Junior High School, teaching seventh grade for five years before moving to Brunswick High School. On Sept. 4 he’ll begin his 51st and final year in education, at the age of 72.

Gordon, who has taught government, U.S. history, psychology, sociology and current events, received his teaching education at the University of Southern Maine when it was still Gorham State Teachers College.

“Brunswick has been phenomenal to me,” Gordon said on Aug. 12. “I would like to be remembered not for what I have done, but who I have, a lot of close friends and a great family.”

He credited the school faculty and his wife, Andrea, and six children for his success and passion for teaching throughout the decades.

Todd Hanson, a mathematics teacher at the high school, said Gordon often spends lunch eating in the cafeteria with students, even when it is not his assigned duty. He has also coached several different teams, both at the high school and as an assistant coach for Bowdoin College’s varsity basketball team.

“You can often find Charlie checking in on his co-workers, mentoring young teachers and following up with people in need,” Hanson said in an email Aug. 13. “He has the ability to know when someone needs a simple hello, to help through a long day or week.

“If we are counting,” Hanson continued, “he has attended more school functions than any other person in our school or community, and it’s not even close. Anything that has Brunswick High School attached to its name, Charlie is there.”

Rick Wilson, director of community outreach at BHS, said in an email that Gordon has a quick wit and an ability to think on his feet and get to the core of a conversation or situation. “He is a connector and networker that spans half a century,” Wilson said, “which has benefited the entire school district in immeasurable ways.”

Janice Smith, head of the school’s English department, said Gordon helped her by providing transportation for her son to graduation rehearsals.

After four days of commuting together, her son came home and, without disclosing what the two had talked about, told her, “Mom, he’s a good man.”

“From a 17-year-old’s perspective, he said (Gordon) was intuitive and respectful. He sincerely cares about all of the people that he talks to,” Smith said. “His vast interest in human nature and individuals is why so many open up to him.”

Gordon said parents have changed the most during his tenure.

“There is an element of helicopter parenting going on more so than ever,” he said. “The parents are much more demanding and feel much more of a sense of entitlement than when I started teaching.”

Other changes have included healthier cafeteria options, the introduction of cell phones, changes to the dress code, and a focus on wellness.

“The school is much more conscious of wellness,” Gordon said. “They offer different things for kids to do after school to keep them active and engaged. The school is very on top of wellness.”

He said the use of cell phones has been a double-edged sword that’s provided one classroom benefit.

“(When I started teaching) emailing wasn’t even a thing, let alone cell phones,” Gordon said. “Phones are not supposed to be used in the classroom, but the use of them is absolutely rampant. We try to turn it in a positive direction and let them be used as computers from time to time and it is difficult to monitor the use and take them away.”

As Gordon prepares for his final year, he said he is reflecting on all of his “lasts” — first day of school, fire drills, school vacations, etc. — and is looking forward to the next chapter of his life, when he plans to travel the country, spend time at his camp in Winthrop, and “play a little more golf.”

“You might see me at L.L. Bean selling shoes,” he said. “… I have a tendency to not be able to sit still.”

“I’m going to miss the daily chemistry that I have with the kids,” he added. “I’m going to miss the conversations and their laughs. I have learned a lot from them.”

Gordon said he still plans on being active in the school community, attending athletic events and other school functions.

“He is an ardent supporter of all things Brunswick High School-related and a steadfast encourager of everyone that has come through its doors,” Smith said. “He truly is the fabric of the school.”

“Charlie has not only been my trusted colleague and strong ally, he has also been a very dear friend,” Pamela Wagner, a social studies teacher, said in an email.

“I have been getting choked up for years every time we talked about his looming retirement,” Wagner said. “Let’s just say that it’s going to be more than difficult for me, like many of us, to let him leave BHS. He deserves the rest, but we will feel an emptiness without him.”


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