SOUTH PORTLAND – Voters in District 1 are voting on an open school board seat. Susan Rauscher and Martha Riehle are competing for the seat.

Susan Rauscher, 48, is employed as a senior product manager at IDEXX and has a master’s in teaching and an MBA. She is married with two daughters, one in eighth grade and the other a high school sophomore in the South Portland School Department. She has lived in South Portland since 2003.

Susan Rauscher

One challenge the school system is facing is the “increase in multilingual learners and house-vulnerable students,” said Rauscher. “Thankfully, many great school programs and community services are ensuring students’ basic needs are met. Let’s continue these programs, expand where necessary, and strengthen community partnerships. Our schools can ensure students feel emotionally and intellectually secure by helping them develop language skills, providing safe and reliable transportation, and supporting their technology needs.

“All students and families should feel a sense of belonging in our schools. We need to identify and reduce barriers to extracurricular activities. I’m also a big fan of the theme for the year, ‘You belong here,’ which sets a tone of acceptance.”

Rauscher also discussed the need to attract and retain teachers and staff. “We need to foster a school community that teachers want to be a part of,” she said. “Teachers and staff should feel valued and appreciated every single day for the hard work that they do. They continue to feel the aftereffects of the pandemic, during which they had to rapidly adapt to ever-shifting realities in the schools, oftentimes putting the health and safety of the students above their own wellbeing. Let’s make sure they are recognized and rewarded on a regular and consistent basis and foster their sense of accomplishment and joy from their work by supporting them in connecting with students, developing creative lessons, and promoting new initiatives.”


Mental health is also a priority for Rauscher. “Another big challenge is mental health,” she said. “We need to help children recognize anxiety and depression and provide help before it becomes critical to their well-being and academic success. Our students, teachers, and staff need to be supported and we need to develop the capacity to help.”

Rauscher expanded on why she is the person for the job. “As a parent, former educator, and business professional I understand and appreciate the many perspectives involved and am ready to listen, observe, and make difficult decisions,” she said. “I love this community and want to support the education and growth of our children.”

Martha (Marty) Riehle, 72,  is a retired nurse and vice president of nursing at Maine Medical Center. She has an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, a masters of nursing from University of Virginia, and a BSN from the University of Southern Maine. She was appointed to the South Portland Economic Development Committee over six years ago, and is their representative to the Comprehensive Plan Committee. She is married with one son and four grandchildren.

Martha Riehle

Riehle discussed the challenges to the community. “As it relates to the school board, one of biggest concerns is how to provide quality education to our student population, many of whom face challenges in their home life,” she said. “Fifteen to 20 percent of students in the South Portland School Department are housing vulnerable as defined by McKinney-Vento. About one in five students in the SPSD is a multilingual learner.

“Our student population grew by greater than 6 percent since 2020. The school system and school board will be challenged to ensure equity and justice in our schools.  It is essential that we support our teachers and ed techs as they work to provide an environment of great teaching and learning in their ever-changing classroom.”

Riehle has lived in Maine for most of her adult life, and her son was educated in Portland schools.

“When I reflect on his experiences in school, I can still recall those teachers who made a real difference in his life,” Riehle said. “I believe I’m the best person for this position as I’m clear-thinking, fair, objective and a problem solver. My leadership skills and abilities were developed throughout my career in health care from my early days as a nurse to becoming a vice president of nursing at Maine Medical Center.

“The demands I faced in managing a large operating room will hold me in good stead for the challenges ahead for the school board. My passion for quality education is demonstrated by multiple years as a volunteer at Portland Adult Education. Our children are our most precious commodity. How we choose to educate them will determine their success and the future of our city. I want to be a part of their future.”

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