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Parade honors Portsmouth teacher retiring after 30 years

Kathleen Beebe is chairwoman of PHS Science Department

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PORTSMOUTH — Kathleen Beebe said it’s a good thing she stuck around her Franklin Terrace home late Sunday afternoon.

“I’m so floored right now,” she exclaimed after the last of dozens of vehicles carrying well-wishers bearing gifts and flowers passed by her home. “We were just looking to maybe go out and pick up a pizza or something. I’m glad I didn’t leave.”

Ms. Beebe, a chemistry teacher affectionately known as “Mickey” to those who know her best, is retiring after a 30-year career at Portsmouth High School.

Known for her boundless energy and enthusiasm — three decades in teaching never jaded her — Ms. Beebe is leaving as chairwoman of the school’s Science Department. 

“My mom is wonderful,” said Jessica Lynch, who helped organize the caravan that started in the high school parking lot at 4:30 p.m. “She was also a class advisor— always available to help students, friends of students. She’s just a great person.”

Ms. Lynch attended PHS herself, but didn’t have her mom as a teacher. “All of my friends did, though,” she said.

Her mom’s passion for science still rubbed off on her daughter, as Ms. Lynch is now the general manager and chief engineer for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District.

The strong turnout of beeping cars and trucks did not surprise her. “I feel she really worked to help everyone and reach out to different students,” Ms. Lynch said.

And many students — past and present — were there to say “thanks.”

“These kids — they’re just so incredible,” Ms. Beebe said. “These kids who just came through — I was their class advisor. They’re from the Class of ’98. It’s such a funny mix of kids I’ve had over 30 years. There was someone in one of my first classes who now has kids at the high school. So now I’m having kids of kids.”

Saying she’s “so conflicted” about leaving school, Ms. Beebe has no big plans for the future.

“I’m still going to work, doing school accreditations; I do that on the side. It’s going to have to be organic, and we’ll see where it goes. I’m not going to not be with these kids,” she said.

As the caravan began, her husband, John, handed her a bouquet of flowers and a chair — although she never sat down.

“He’s put up with me for 100 years,” she joked. “Actually, our 41st anniversary is Tuesday. It’s been an amazing ride.”

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