By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News - DEXTER — "He’s the man," Daren Wing exclaimed Friday as he wrapped his arms around Dexter Regional High School teacher Rick Whitney and gave him a celebratory hug.
It was evident from Wing and other students and faculty members who filtered in and out of Whitney’s room Friday that the history teacher is well-loved and respected.
"He is clearly in the top 1 percent of all teachers when it comes to the teaching profession," Dexter Regional High School Principal Steve Bell said Friday.
It was Whitney’s dedication, his love of history, and his respect of students that resulted in his being named the Palmyra Wal-Mart store’s teacher of the year. As the local winner, Whitney received a $100 gift card for school supplies and the school received a $1,000 award to be used in the history department.
Whitney was one of 68 teachers nominated for the award in the region, according to Debbie Tibbetts, Wal-Mart’s local community involvement coordinator. She said Whitney’s name will be submitted to a state competition that carries a $10,000 prize for the teacher’s school. The state winner will advance to the national competition, which carries a $25,000 award, she said.
"It’s very humbling to get it," Whitney said Friday. "I think it’s nice to be recognized but there are an awfully lot of people here who make me look good."
Student Rebecca Fick said Whitney’s dedication is amazing. He serves not only as the Key Club adviser, engaging students to be responsible community members, but also as curator for the Dexter museums. "He’s a really good guy," she said.
Wing said he considered Whitney the best teacher he has ever had. "He’s also the nicest guy you’ll ever meet," he added.
"He’s a real superman; he flies around this building from place to place, job to job, and he doesn’t do it for the limelight, he does it because he loves to do it," said Regan McPhetres, a DRHS science teacher. "He has the patience of one thousand individuals."
Whitney said he started teaching at DRHS as a substitute in 1989 and has been at the school ever since. History is his passion. "I’ve loved it since I was a kid," he said. That love of history is imparted to his students.
"He gets into it, he explains everything hands down," student Ethan Woodman of Dexter said. "He’s funny, he puts comic relief in there on test days so we’re not all worked up."
Student Kammerone Wampler agreed. "He’s just amazing."
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