Written by: Don Chouinard, UMFK Alumni Board Member and Alumnus from the Class of 1991
What an incredible honor it is for me to speak on behalf of the UMFK Alumni Board of Directors. It is an equal honor to be here as an educator recognizing the contributions of a fellow educator. Because of these crazy times in which we live, educators have had to increase their workload while opening themselves up to unprecedented levels of community and public scrutiny. We have become the targets of intense criticism and unreasonable expectations that extend far beyond the boundaries of our job descriptions. As a result, we have had to work twice as hard to get half the educational results that were possible in the pre-covid world. Educators have had to lean on each other, cheer each other on, and support each other more. So, the fact that we are here not to bash, but to celebrate the contributions of an educator, to me, makes homecoming weekend at UMFK all the more special.
If you know me at all, you can imagine my excitement as a member of the Alumni Association Awards Subcommittee when Doris’s nomination came through as one of the candidates. By the way, I’d like to take a moment to thank Cindy Guy for nominating Doris. SLAM DUNK! It’s one thing for a fellow educator to recognize the contributions and greatness of another educator because we know how real the struggle is, but when someone outside of the profession can see the greatness, then the educator must be incredible. Also, thank you to Susan Tardie, who does most of the leg work for candidate searches and nominations for this award, Shannon Lugdon, who also coordinates a bazillion details throughout the process, and President Deb Hedeen, who has been a constant source of support and vision for the Board.
The selection process for Outstanding Alumni is lengthy and rigorous, and there are many criteria one must meet in order to qualify. Members of the subcommittee must agree, and then the entire board must approve the decision. Some years, it’s a no-brainer, while other years, we are all ready to go to the mat for our respective nominees. Doris had an incredibly impressive list of accomplishments, awards, community service, and experience, and this nomination felt natural and right for all of us.
Although Doris and I never worked for the same educational institutions, I witnessed the products of her efforts as student teachers from her courses at UMFK interned in my school and in my classroom here in Fort Kent. Let me be very clear here – professionally, Doris’ students knew their stuff. They came to my classroom knowledgeable of learning standards, ready to differentiate instruction, and eager to skillfully develop challenging and relevant lessons to meet the evolving needs of today’s youth. They could accurately diagnose student needs and prescribe effective remediation, and they worked well beyond the school day to make sure that each learner received a quality education.
But that is NOT what makes Doris a standout.
Her students were compassionate, kind, and sensitive to the academic, emotional, and social needs of learners. Her students could “see” the learners before them and understand that, on some days, school was the last thing on their minds. Doris’s students arrived for their internships eager to get involved in all aspects of school life and to build strong, authentic relationships with young learners. Her students were invested in our students, and at the end of their internships, I found myself campaigning my administration to find ways to keep them on board. These qualities cannot be gained from reading a college text or taking an online course. They are learned from example. They are modeled by an educator. They are adopted by education majors through inspiration, and they are the purest example of the saying, “Practice what you preach.”
Nothing speaks louder about the abilities and effectiveness of an educator than the quality, dedication, and success of their students. In preparation for this event, I thought it would be appropriate to reach out to some of Doris’s former students and ask them to say a few words about how she impacted their development as a professional. First of all – they were all excited, proud, and supportive of Doris’s nomination, and they were quick to respond.
Doris Metz was absolutely instrumental in my education. I first took one of her classes to fill a speech credit. Fast forward a few years…I think over the course of my college career, I took just about every course Doris offered, and it has made me a more compassionate, kind, attentive, and effective teacher.
Doris was always very fair, and she always treated us with lots of respect. She was always very easy to talk to and very approachable. I have always tried to model these qualities in my own teaching career.
I don’t know that I could point to the most important thing Doris taught me, but I can tell you what I think about the most – kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe. Doris always makes her students feel safe. Doris’s classroom is truly a place where no question is a dumb question. I can only hope to someday have the same said about my classroom.
And Doris, LIKE YOU, your students ARE amazing. Because of you, they have helped to build a stronger community here in the valley, throughout the state, and the entire country. I ask you all here to imagine the impact that one person like Doris can have on a community, on a state, on a nation, or even the world. One great educator can have a positive, exponential ripple effect on the lives of thousands and even millions of people. Doris that is your legacy, and it gives me great pleasure to present you with the UMFK Alumni Association Alumni of the Year award. Congratulations!