OLD TOWN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --Emotional goodbyes Monday at Southern Penobscot Regional Program in Old Town as the 35 year old program closes its doors. It was a difficult day for the staff. Next school year, Bangor is integrating the program back into the Bangor School system. SPRP serves students with behavioral and developmental disabilities across much of Penobscot County. There were plenty of hugs and tearful goodbyes. Many educators will be going their separate ways onto new jobs and to new places.
"This is the best job that I ever had," said Barbara Gunn, the program director. "The kids that we've had here they're wonderful kids and we all love them."
"(It's) Sad to be leaving because I truly loved coming to work everyday and even though the behaviors were challenging we just loved on the kids," added Ellen Brochu a special education teacher for three years.
One thing they all agreed upon, within these brick walls, through these corridors, and in these classrooms, they made a difference.
"I work a lot of places and this has been one of my favorite places," Dani Eichenlaub explained. She's been a speech pathologist for the program for the past 13 years. "The challenges of the children can be extreme but so are the rewards. The kid that's been having a tough time and then turns around and wants a hug. It's an amazing place."
They admit t wasn't always easy but they'll never forget their time here as the bell rings one final time..
"The laughter and the looks and the touch on the shoulder have been really reassuring," Eichenlaub pointed out.
"Many of us have made connections and will stay together," Gunn said "It's like a family it truly is and all family members don't stay together but many do."
The Bangor School Department says it is accepting applications from staff at SPRP for positions. But, many of the 35 employees have already accepted jobs elsewhere.
There were 43 students at SPRP this year. A number of those students will go to Bangor next year.