Dr. Terri Cooper became RSU 21 Superintendent in August. We asked her, along with some others, in their professional capacities, what they are thankful for this year. Tammy Wells photo

Thanksgiving Day is a bit different this year – but the foundation of the holiday remains the same. There are reasons to be thankful, and so we reached out into the community and asked a few people what they were thankful for, in their professional capacity, this year. Most replied – and that makes us thankful. Here is what they said, in their own words:

Terri Cooper, superintendent, RSU 21:

“It is the season of gratitude. A time to reflect on life’s journey and identify people, experiences and events that motivate us to get up every morning and face daily joys and push past the disappointments. Even in the midst of our global, national, and local challenges, there is much to celebrate.

March 2020 will forever be etched in our memory. Throughout the nation, school personnel contemplated the closing of school doors. Fear and panic permeated our communities as the rise in COVID cases seemed unstoppable. As a nation, we temporarily became immobile. I am grateful that we did not remain in that mode of operation. We are resilient people who have collectively and compassionately fought daunting battles in support of our students, staff, and community.

As our RSU 21 doors reopened this fall, there was much trepidation and fear. With planning and dedicated staff, we were able to safely open schools and give all some semblance of normalcy. We were leery as to how long our doors would remain open, but we pushed past the fear and implemented safety measures for all. Three months later, we are still in school providing love, academic support, and social/emotional guidance to our students.

I am grateful for many things in my profession, but most thankful for the following groups this 2020-2021 school year: School staff and administrators who tirelessly go above and beyond to make sure our students are achieving and are safe; students who come to school ready to learn and consistently reminding us of our purpose; parents who partner with us and advocate for their children’s education and well-being and community members who are relentless in providing added support to our school district.

I would be remiss in not mentioning that I am extremely grateful for a warm community that has embraced and welcomed me into the RSU 21 family. I do feel that the New England and South (North Carolina) pairing make for a great combination. I am eternally grateful.”

Laura Dolce, executive director, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel Chamber of Commerce:

“This year I am thankful for our members, who have not only helped to support us, but who have come together to support each other and the community. They have pivoted, adjusted, adapted and more on a daily basis. Through their efforts our town’s visitors, employees and residents have been kept safe. And as much as this is a tough time, I have really enjoyed having deeper conversations with so many members this year. And I’m grateful for all the promise ahead.”

Abigail Smith, executive director, Animal Welfare Society:

“There’s not a lot about the pandemic that we’re grateful for, but at AWS we tried to take advantage of what opportunities it did afford us. With few animals in the shelter and limited visits from the public, we were able to complete a full renovation of our cat living area in the Adoption Center. Our feline friends have new, larger living spaces, updated flooring and lighting, fresh paint, and some amazing new things to climb, lounge and curl up on. Our guests have several lovely areas to meet and get to know cats and kittens that are waiting to go home, complete with comfy seating and soothing music. Visits with the animals are now one at a time by appointment and are facilitated by helpful staff who can assist each family in finding their perfect match. It’s a brand-new space, and a nice new pace, and we think it’s an improvement for all!”

Wendy Lank, social services administrator, Arundel:

“I am grateful for my job with the town of Arundel because I have met so many wonderful people in the 31 years I have worked here. I am so thankful because I get to do what I love — help people.

I am so thankful for all the organizations that we have in our community. This year due to COVID the most needed item that I am finding people are requesting help with is food and personal/household supplies. COS of the Kennebunks and Arundel have provided that help to them. I am thankful for all the help that community members have given during this time as well. My heart is warmed by all the individuals who have stepped up to volunteer their time to package up the food, deliver the food and run errands for residents who cannot leave their homes.

I am thankful for all the support I have also received from the town of Arundel and their residents. In October we were able to make the move into our new Municipal Building. I hope that everyone can come out and see it because it is such a beautiful and functioning town hall.”

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