At the invitation of Principal Glen Widmer, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, visited Troy Central School April 13 and used her hour and a half there to communicate to students the importance of respecting those who disagree with you, that anyone can be whatever they want to if they work hard, the value of good attendance, and her love of reading.

After being escorted into the building by two young ambassadors, Collins was greeted by the six-piece school band.

She then gave a presentation about her life and work to the fourth and fifth grades. She spoke of her childhood in Caribou and some of her changing dreams of what she wanted to be when she grew up, before she settled on senator: a ballet dancer, a librarian, a dentist.

She related a story of telling her dentist when she was 10 that she would be joining his profession.

"Do you know what he told me?" she asked. "You're going to think this is so foolish. He said girls can't become dentists because they are too weak."

Collins told the students that from big cities to small towns, in every Maine school,“teachers, staff, parents, and neighbors are all working together to make sure you have the best possible education and the opportunity to make your dreams come true.”

Moving on to her adult life, she highlighted meeting astronauts from Maine, chairing eight children's congress hearings to raise awareness of type-1 diabetes, the signing of the Girl Scout Commemorative Coin Act and her trip to Antarctica organized by the University of Maine. She also spoke about her perfect attendance at roll-call votes during her 21 years as Senator, the third longest streak in the history of the Senate.

"That's like not missing a day of school from kindergarten to 12th grade and beyond," she said.

In summary, Collins said, “Doing your best, working together, and having respect for others are among the most important lessons you can learn. You are so fortunate to have a school that is dedicated to helping you learn them.”

Students then had the opportunity to ask the senator questions they had prepared. One asked about some of the difficult parts of the job, and Collins responded that social media has made debate less civil.

"You expect people to criticize or disagree with you, that's just part of the job," she said. "But what is hard is when on social media they're really mean… They call you names that aren't very nice, and they say things that they would never say face-to-face. When I first ran, that part didn't exist, because we didn't have social media everywhere."

Another asked where she was going next. She said she will be traveling to Caribou to celebrate her mother's 90th birthday.

Collins then read "Antlers Forever," by Maine author Frances Bloxam, to the first- and second-graders, and listened while kindergarten students sang a song and, one by one, offered her tulips.

Before and after the visit, she spent time answering questions from reporters, all of whom asked about her recent comments that she was considering running for governor. She said she has not come any closer to a decision, but was weighing her seniority in the Senate with the more hands-on involvement with the state she would enjoy were she elected governor.