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state mother of the year
Maine-PatriciaClark

Meet Patricia Morris Clark, 2022 Maine Mother of the Year®

March 24, 2022

About

Patricia Morris Clark lives with her husband Bill, geriatric cat Tobi, and puppy Pedro. She has two daughters, Jocelyn (in France) and Erin (her husband, Steve and their two children in New Hampshire). She earned a BA in Journalism and French from Midland College, Fremont (NE) and BS in Education from the University of Nebraska. Clark taught elementary and kindergarten for 20 years and returned for her MS in Special Education after watching children struggle. She came to the University of Maine as professor and Early Childhood Studies director and earned a CAS in Early Intervention/Special Education and Public Policy. In collaboration with Head Start, she designed one of the first all-day kindergartens in Maine. Clark served as Head Start Fellow in Washington DC from 2007-2008, providing training and technical assistance to families throughout the US, and then served as a National Women’s Law Fellow in 2008, advocating for Maine children and families. 

Patricia Morris Clark lives with her husband Bill, geriatric cat Tobi, and puppy Pedro. She has two daughters, Jocelyn (in France) and Erin (her husband, Steve and their two children in New Hampshire). She earned a BA in Journalism and French from Midland College, Fremont (NE) and BS in Education from the University of Nebraska. Clark taught elementary and kindergarten for 20 years and returned for her MS in Special Education after watching children struggle. She came to the University of Maine as professor and Early Childhood Studies director and earned a CAS in Early Intervention/Special Education and Public Policy. In collaboration with Head Start, she designed one of the first all-day kindergartens in Maine. Clark served as Head Start Fellow in Washington DC from 2007-2008, providing training and technical assistance to families throughout the US, and then served as a National Women’s Law Fellow in 2008, advocating for Maine children and families. 

What surprises you most about being a mom?

I am surprised that my love keeps growing and growing for my children and grandchildren. Once a mom, always a mom. My connection is so strong that I still turn around when someone yells “Mom” in a store even though my children do not live near me! They are not children any more either. They have grown into wonderful, kind adults.

Who has been impactful in your journey as a mother? What lessons do you carry with you and share often through motherhood?

My mother was a wonderful example of how a mom should be throughout my life. She listened and was empathetic, understanding, and firm when needed. She was funny and smart. In those days, at my school, girls had to wear skirts even in the Nebraska cold. Mom helped us make posters to use while picketing the school to wear pants. If she believed we were correct in our views, she helped us, no matter what her friends thought. She always said that a sense of humor helps us get through the tough times in life and if you aren’t rich, be creative.

What continues to inspire you in your motherhood journey?

Children. All children need a foundation of love and nurturing from adults for secure attachment to occur. To level the field, children also need to engage in conversation and enjoy books with adults. We need to read to them, ask questions, share new experiences, and encourage new vocabulary so they enter school at the same level as their peers. Catching up to peers in literacy is more difficult and shakes their self-confidence. Preschoolers don’t need flash cards. They need arms to hold them for a story or adventure!

How has being a mom shaped your life?

I have a greater understanding of children’s issues. It has made me a better teacher and advocate for children. I am more aware of problems and the inequality of resources for America’s children. I have joined boards of directors of groups that fight for children’s rights and help families to cope in this—sometimes overwhelming—world. I volunteer with preschool children in literacy and social skills. I testify for bills in the state legislature and national congressional leaders who shape children’s issues. It made me aware that we can and should use our voices for change for all families.

Share one of your favorite stories from motherhood?

When my girls were young, I co-coordinated the Girls’ Science Club. We always took an annual overnight trip to Boston to the Science Museum. There was no direct exit in those days. I would lead a caravan of mothers in minivans off the highway into the heart of Boston. Inevitably, given my lack of direction, I would lead them into a dead-end street or worse. This would also happen on the return. One day, after circling Storrow Drive for the third time, we spotted a police car at Dunkin. He gave us the VIP exit out of Boston, sirens blaring.

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