Val Baker holds her first grandson, Brody Baker in her classroom at KMS.

Valerie Baker, a special education teacher at the Middle School of the Kennebunks and a fierce advocate for her students, died Friday after suffering a possible stroke. She was 70.

Baker began her teaching career in Florida before moving to Maine in 1984. She taught in Kittery, then joined Maine School Administrative District 71 in 1987. She was a special education teacher at the Middle School of the Kennebunks for 33 years.

She was remembered Tuesday as a kind, bubbly and engaging teacher, who had a passion for education.

“She was all in,” said Dr. Terri Cooper, superintendent of what is now RSU 21. “She was invested in every student and cared for each child as if they were her own. She had a love and passion for people and a love and passion for the work.”

Baker led the special education department at the middle school for many years. Her legacy extends beyond academics. She was a fixture at the school store, where she taught her students life skills. She was teaching up until a month ago.

“She taught kindness, giving and being compassionate,” Cooper said. “Those things will live on. We were so fortunate to have her in this district. We were so fortunate to have her work with our students. She will be missed.”

She was married to Peter Baker for 42 years. The couple lived in Kennebunk and raised two sons, Ryan Baker and Kyle Baker.

She was remembered by her sons Tuesday as a supportive mother who was active in their lives. In 1994, she was instrumental in starting the Kennebunk Hockey Boosters and stayed involved in the club during the years her sons played for Kennebunk High School.

“She was the best. She would drive us all over the world for our different sports,” said Ryan Baker. “She was involved in the hockey boosters, packed our lunches every day and never missed an event. If she wasn’t teaching, she was at one of our games. She didn’t miss anything.”

Her son laughed as he recalled hearing her voice in the stands.

“She had a loud voice you could hear from a mile away,” her son said. “You always knew when mom was in the stands. You could hear her. She would get anxious. We played contact sports, hockey and lacrosse. If it were a hard hit or a bad hit or a good goal, you could hear her over anyone else. She was always very animated.”

Baker was remembered as a caring, selfless and loving person. Her son said the hardest part of her passing will be the grandkids not seeing her.

“My kids call her Mia,” her son said. “She was an amazing grandmother to my children and my brother’s sons.”

For many years, she helped her husband run his plumbing business.

“They were the best,” her son said. “She helped him manage the books. That’s not his specialty. She kept him on the rails. She kept him in order with taxes, invoices, debits and credits. She managed that for him. She worshiped the ground he walked on. …My dad is in a rough spot right now.”

Visiting hours will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16, at Bibber Memorial Chapel, 67 Summer St. in Kennebunk. Mourners will be asked to comply with CDC guidelines of wearing a mask and physically distancing.

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