WINTHROP — Have I told you that I like you yet today?

That phrase crops up again and again in the note cards. There are more 170 of them, each one written in a different hand. Some of the handwriting is irregular and shaky. Some of the spelling is shaky, too.

The students and teachers of Winthrop Grade School wrote the note cards, which have been assembled and bound in a single volume, “Thoughts and Memories of Mr. Giasson.”

Bill Giasson — better known as Mr. G — was a third-grade teacher who taught at the school for 19 years before he died in February at age 61. The volume is one way the school community is attempting to honor their teacher and preserve his memory.

Another way is through an event that starts today. Winthrop Grade School will hold its first Mr. G. Spelling Bee.

Preliminary rounds at the classroom level have been taking place since Monday. This morning, finalists from fifth and fourth grade will compete in separate rounds and the remaining grades will face off a week from today. Finals will be held in the town’s multi-purpose room and are open to parents and friends.

“My hope is that we can honor and remember Bill but, more importantly, show that students are applying what he taught them about the joys of learning and life,” said Principal Jeff Ladd.

Most of the note cards are addressed directly to Mr. G, and some contain misspellings.

Besides his often-used phrase, “Have I told you that I like you yet today?” the cards include heartfelt tributes to Giasson’s rapport with his students.

“I love how you always beleived in me,” reads one.

“You never gave up on us,” reads another.

There is frequent mention of Mr. G’s favorite hockey team — “Bruins will win the Stanley Cup!!! for you” — and many cards recount the bear hugs and high fives he distributed in the classroom and hallways.

Mr. G’s love of music in general and his guitar playing in particular come in for special praise, as well as his teaching of the Maine County Song (“Sixteen counties in our state…”).

The more mundane aspects of the curriculum are also mentioned. “Mr. Giasson was a good social studies teacher,” writes one student. “He taught me my multiplaction,” writes another.

“Bill was a larger-than-life kind of guy,” Ladd said. “Bill really believed in loving kids.”

Giasson, of Lewiston, sponsored the French Club at the school for many years. In his private life he played guitar and sang in a country western band. He worked also as a facilitator, in both Lewiston and Augusta, for Maine Kids-Kin, an organization that provides support to grandparents and other non-parental relatives who are raising their grandkids.

Jan Strout, a member of Augusta’s Maine Kids-Kin group, described Giasson as a man “who was always concerned about kids’ welfare.”


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