Rotarians meet with Maine’s First Lady

Diane Hines, Houlton Rotarian, Special to The County
6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its luncheon meeting on Monday Feb. 12.

The Rotarian Literacy team of Otis Smith, Tracy Rockwell and Linda Faucher hosted guest speakers Lee Anne Larsen and the First Lady of Maine Ann LePage. Rockwell introduced Larsen and gave a brief bio that followed Larsen’s career from an elementary school literacy specialist to the Department of Education Literacy Specialist.

Larsen lives in Oakland and is the proud mother of two daughters.Larsen said that she is honored to be a part of the Houlton Elementary School literacy team and partnering with the Houlton Rotary Club in its efforts to promote literacy.

She has worked with the teachers to build literacy in Maine schools. It is a detriment to students if they cannot read and write, she said. In seeking higher education, literacy is essential. Since 2012, Larsen has worked with educators to form local literacy teams in their communities and now sees fifty such teams around the State.

She commended the Houlton Rotary Club’s efforts. The “Read to Me” challenge is to read at least 15 minutes a day to a child and post a photo on social media to challenge someone else to do the same. This leads up to “Read Across America” challenge this March.

Larsen introduced Maine’s First Lady Ann LePage. LePage is a Maine native with roots in the County. It has almost been eight years that she has served as First Lady. Her number one job is to be a mother to her children and she has read to them through their childhood years.

Her adopted son struggled with reading until they found an interest in golf and they supplied him with golf literature to encourage him to read. LePage has been reading to children of military families at the Blaine House and has hosted a “kick off” event three years in a row for the “Read to Me” challenge.

She likes to read the books “Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs” and “Baxter in the Blaine House”. The second book was written about the family dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, that Lauren LePage adopted in 2008 from a shelter in Florida. Baxter moved into the Blaine House in 2011 with the family and became the First Dog of Maine, a position that he served until his death in 2016.

When asked about Baxter by some children she has read to recently, LePage has had to tell them that Baxter died. She was advised not to say that to children so she thought of another answer when asked about Baxter’s whereabouts. She responds that he got married and moved to the County. This answer meets with a better response from children.

LePage compared children to sponges as they soak up information when read to. Statistics show that language skills are improved in children as a result of reading aloud.

Reading aloud models lifelong reading activity and just 15-20 minutes per day impacts a child in so many ways. “Read, read, read and read some more,” is LePages’s philosophy. When asked about where she would be in a year from now LePage could not predict the future and said that there is never a dull moment as First Lady. To learn more about the Maine Department of Education reading challenge Larsen can be contacted at

Other guests on the day  included Sabra Scott with her mother Rotarian Meg York. The Literacy team from the Southside School were guests of the Club and included Janet Murakami, Barbara Claudel and Principal Candy Crane.