Sarah Jane Poli: Biddeford’s first female school superintendent

A story by Biddeford Cultural & Heritage Center "Voices of Biddeford project" from 1940s to 2019

Voices of Biddeford interview with Sarah Jane Poli on June 4, 2019

Sarah Jane was born in and spent her entire life in Biddeford. Her father came from Italy in 1911 at the age of 16. He eventually started Poli's Market, a family grocery business that lasted over 60 years. She attended Biddeford public schools, then made a career in the same school system as a teacher, Curriculum Director and Assistant Superintendent. Ultimately Sarah Jane retired as Biddeford's first female Superintendent. She had been a leader in many professional and community organizations. The Biddeford Middle School Library carries her name, one of the particularly meaningful recognitions she had received for her contributions.

In her interview, Sarah Jane shared why her family immigrated to Biddeford and why her father never wanted to return to Italy; her father's prediction that Main Street would die and moved the business to Five Points; unique aspects of "Mom and Pop" grocery stores; the challenges, rewards and changes in the Biddeford School System through the years; what it was REALLY like being Superintendent, especially the challenges of being the first woman to hold that role; major school construction projects; and her views on what made Biddeford special and why she stayed.

Recorded on June 4, 2019

View a transcript of this interview, more pictures, and additional information.

For more stories from the "Voices for Biddeford" project, visit Voices of Biddeford.

Sarah Jane Poli 2019

1st Poli's Market on Main Street in Biddeford with Mr. Baker, Michelangelo "Mike" Poli and Lucy Poli

2nd Poli's Market on Main Street in Biddeford

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