Longtime college instructor embodies community of strength

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Each year in May, Older Americans Month celebrates everyday people across the country who are using their talents and experience to make the places where they live more resilient and inclusive. 

The Aroostook Agency on Aging is marking the month and they hope to bring people together by honoring older persons living in northern Maine who play a role in building stronger communities.   

The Administration for Community Living leads the nation’s celebration of Older Americans Month. This year’s theme is Communities of Strength, which the organization hopes will emphasize the power of connection and engagement in building strong communities like those in northern Maine.   

Malcolm Coulter teaches mathematics at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and has taught several generations of college students. Those who haven’t sat through one of his classes have probably seen him walking to and from campus over the years. Today, at 77 years old and “officially” retired, Coulter continues to teach at the university while maintaining his healthy lifestyle. 

Like many other older people in the region, Coulter has used the services of Aroostook Agency on Aging on occasion. In March, he booked his COVID‐19 vaccination appointment with help from staff and volunteers. In all kinds of weather, he walks every day, so he can keep up with his health and mobility. He is thankful he does not have any serious physical challenges, but admits he has lost some speed as the years have gone by. 

Older Americans Month also celebrates individuals who contribute to their communities as outstanding citizens. Coulter stays involved with the people around him and continues to be a positive member in his neighborhood. In the winter, he shovels snow from the walkway to his apartment. He also prepares and cooks his own meals.   

“Each Sunday I attend Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and contribute money during the offertory as well,” Coulter said. 

Although he has stepped back from his full‐time teaching schedule, Coulter is still passionate about math and making numbers have more meaning for learners. Over the years, he has been able to see his students grow both personally and academically. He has made an impact on many students over the years and that has not changed since his retirement.

“My favorite thing about being an educator is watching my students gradually gain new knowledge in mathematics,” he said.

Older Americans Month provides an opportunity to thank and appreciate older people in the community. Officials at the Aroostook Agency on Aging said they are proud to highlight Coulter and other “wonderful older people” in northern Maine.

“It is true that people in their seventies can no longer do some of the things they did in their twenties and thirties,” Coulter adds. “But reaching an advanced age is certainly a lot better than the alternative.” 

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