At a March 7 meeting, the Portland Board of Public Education and Superintendent Xavier Botana recognized two longtime Portland Public Schools’ educators who passed away in February.
“Thomas and Catherine Bucci, who both reached the age of 90, taught scores of Portland Public Schools’ students and served as mentors for other educators in their combined 60-plus years of teaching in our district,” Botana said. “They also were the parents of our district’s gifted and talented coordinator, Kathleen Ball, so their educational legacy continues to the present day.”
Botana gave a brief summary of Catherine Bucci’s career at PPS. He said she “began teaching in 1968 at Presumpscot Elementary School and also taught at Reiche and Lyseth before retiring. She loved teaching first graders because they came in as non-readers and she was able to give them the lifelong gift of literacy. When she mentored new teachers, she would share her philosophy of teaching: ‘Expect nothing and that is what you will get. Expect great things and that is what you will see.’ Clearly, Catherine Bucci expected great things of her students and hundreds of Portland children benefited from her belief in them.”
Botana described Thomas Bucci as a pianist, composer and educator, who had a long and varied musical career.
“Our district was fortunate to have him as our Instrumental Music Supervisor for 30 years, starting in 1951,” Botana said. “He also conducted the Portland High School Band and Orchestra. His former students recalled him as inspiring them to excel ‘beyond what they believed was possible.’”
Married for more than 67 years, Thomas and Catherine Bucci were devoted to each other and died within two days of each other, Botana noted. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to Kathleen Ball and her family and want to express our gratitude to the Bucci’s for their decades of passionate dedication and service to students in the Portland Public Schools,” he said.