July 08--WILTON -- Two retired RSU 9 educators of Wilton have been chosen to co-chair a fundraising campaign to raise $750,000 to open the Western Maine Play Museum on Main Street in the summer of 2015.
Co-chairpersons Lori Lewis, a retired teacher, and Michael Cormier, a retired superintendent, will be providing leadership for the capital campaign, according to a news release.
"As co-chair of the capital campaign, it will be a pleasure for me to continue to tell the (Western Maine Play Museum) story, to elicit support in the community and to share my enthusiasm for this worthy cause," Lewis said in the release.
"I look forward to working with folks and making this dream a reality," Cormier said.
Lewis, who holds a master's degree from the University of Illinois, taught both English and American Sign Language at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington for 35 years. She currently teaches part-time at the University of Maine at Farmington and keeps her ASL skills fresh by acting as interpreter for local events, such as graduations and story hour at the library, according to the release.
Cormier has dedicated 42 years to public education, including serving 20 years as superintendent of Regional School Unit 9, also known as Mt. Blue Regional School District, which is based in Farmington and serves 10 towns, including Wilton.
Having served as a teacher, principal and superintendent of two other districts, Cormier came to Western Maine in 1993 and spent the next two decades overseeing SAD 9 as it reconfigured schools, shifted to an RSU, expanded from nine towns to 10 to include Starks and initiated a $64 million remodeling of the high school. The Mt. Blue Campus project was completed after his retirement in June 2013.
Cormier now teaches part-time through the University of Maine system. He also just completed a stint as interim superintendent at RSU 40 in the Union area.
Cormier and Lewis are ready to include Western Maine Play Museum in the next phase of their careers, the release states.
Originally conceived by Wilton resident Angela McLeod, the museum board is made up of 13 directors, on which Lewis currently serves. As a registered non-profit, the museum has set the goal of raising $750,000 in order to renovate an approximate 4,500-square-foot property donated to the museum in March. The funding will also be used to furnish the museum with interactive and educational exhibits designed to give local kids an opportunity to play and learn at the same time.
"What an opportunity for the children in our area to have a place where they will be able to explore, learn and have fun," Cormier said.
"It is an honor to be asked to co-chair the fundraising effort on behalf of the Western Maine Play Museum," Lewis said.
"I've been inspired by the commitment and generosity I've seen from the many Western Maine Play Museum) volunteers on the board and in the community, and I'm honored to be part of this project," she said in the release. "I look forward very much to working with Mike Cormier, whose integrity and personal kindness I have always appreciated. His credibility and reputation in the community, and his sincere interest in the education of children, will all be great assets to our fundraising drive."
Community members interested in supporting this project can go to the museum's website, www.westernmaineplay.org, for donation options or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project updates can be found at www.facebook.com/WesternMainePlayMuseum and the website.
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