Lifelong Love of Learning: Rick Dale Delivers Last Lecture

By Nick Bray, Contributing Writer

In front of an overflowing room, Associate Professor of Special Education, Dr. Rick Dale concluded the 19th annual Michael D. Wilson Symposium by giving his last lecture. In its fifth year, the last lecture is a yearly event at symposium, sponsored by Alpha Lambda Delta, which gives one retiring professor an opportunity to reflect and share life lessons with the community.

Titled “My Teachers,” Dale’s evening talk reflected on the authors, people and experiences which he has learned from throughout his life. Unlike most of the presentations given during the day of student talks, there were no audiovisual aids. “No powerpoint tonight,” Dale said. “Going old school, I do powerpoint way too much.”

Dale, a quiet and soft-spoken person, first shared that he has a tattoo. There was a feeling of surprise that lingered in the audience after Dale made that statement. He has a tattoo of the word “foghlaim,” which is a Gaelic word meaning both teach and learn. Dale’s talk emphasized that one can be a lifelong learner, and that it is important to reflect on the teachers which have shaped one’s life.

Among the authors Dale discussed was Fred Rogers, at which time he shared excerpts from a short piece Rogers wrote called, “What Comes First in Learning.”

“If you care about your students and you care about what you are teaching, everything else is a technical matter,” Dale said.

Another author Dale mentioned during his talk was Jack Kerouac, who taught him about the importance of spontaneity and passion. Dale could be considered an expert on the writings of Kerouac and the beat generation. He has written a book, “The Beat Handbook” and maintains a blog, “The Daily Beat” on the philosophies of the beat generation. For several years Dale has also taught a first year seminar course on Jack Kerouac.

One of his former students and secretary of Alpha Lambda Delta, Sarah Jenkins, introduced Dale before his lecture. She took his First Year Seminar and became inspired to travel out west. Jenkins made the trip earlier this year when she drove across country and visited Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. “I lived out of my car and wrote poems about the sights I saw,” Jenkins said. “I felt like a modern day Jack Kerouac.” Although she doesn’t give full credit for her trip to Dale, Jenkins says she never had an interest in going west before taking his class.

Included among the eight people Dale identified as teachers in his speech, was one of his supervisors from when Dale worked as director of special education for a regional service agency in Pennsylvania. His supervisor, only referred to as Ed, taught Dale to not allow people to put their problems on him. “Don’t let them do it, make sure they leave with their monkey,” Dale said, quoting his supervisor. At this time Dale was responsible for 400 staff and thousands of students. Dale made sure that staff presented three solutions to the problem they came to him with. This cut down on the number of issues Dale had to solve. “They often solved their own problem,” Dale said.

Of the experiences Dale learned from, living in a hotel was the most interesting.  His father was the manager of a four-story hotel and his family lived in a first-floor suite. While living there, Dale learned the importance of spending time alone. He was constantly around people, employees and guests of the hotel. In one of the many light hearted moments of his talk, Dale shared a story about jumping down the laundry chute into the basement of the hotel. Don’t ask me about the hygiene issues associated with cavorting in guests’ dirty laundry,” Dale said. “You don’t think about such things when you’re 10.”

Along with the scores of students Dale has impacted over his 11 years at UMF, he also developed strong relationships with his colleagues. Dr. Lance Neeper, professor of special education has an office next door to Dr. Dale’s. In an email Neeper explained that he and Dale share many interests, including travel and music. Neeper keeps a box of things Dale has shared with him over the years. “Rick is always there if you need him, willing to listen and offer suggestions and guidance,” Neeper said. “He has an incredible specialization in law and policy an area of focus within special education that is rare and cannot be replaced.”

Upon his retirement, Dale ends a 39 year career in Special Education as a teacher, consultant, and administrator. Dale does not have many immediate plans, but his retirement gives him time to do things he doesn’t have much time for now. He and his partner are planning a trip to Europe in the fall, where they’ll be visiting family in France, making an excursion to Venice, and potentially concluding the trip in Ireland.

After a gap, Dale will likely be involved in education in some capacity. Dale has been a political advocate in the past, and will have more time to attend legislative hearings and speak out on bills concerning the regulation of special education and education in general. Dale may even get back into teaching. “This is going to sound unexpected but I’ve thought about substituting in public schools.” Dale said.

Student Feature: Stephen Riitano Making a Difference

Student Feature: Stephen Riitano Making a Difference

By Kaitlyn Polk, Contributing Writer 

UMF student Stephen Riitano. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

UMF student Stephen Riitano. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Stephen Riitano is a friendly face around UMF and is very excited to graduate in 2018 with a major in secondary education. Currently a CA in Mallet Hall, Riitano is also the vice president of Student Senate, president of Operation Giveback, and will be a Resident’s Assistant starting next year. He has a lot on his plate and continues to have a smile on his face while balancing his many involvements.

Being a CA makes him a familiar face around campus. “I call being a CA the fishbowl effect,” Riitano said. “You become a face on campus that everyone knows and goes to.” He strives to help all of his Mallet Hall residents so that they can be the best they can be.

Riitano has a passion for teaching and always has. “I have always wanted to be a teacher since 3rd grade,” Riitano said. He had his eyes set on UMF when he was in the eighth grade. “For years I have dreamed of coming to UMF,” Riitano said. Now that the end is so close, it is exciting to be finally in the profession.”

Before Riitano graduated from Bangor High School in 2015, he knew right away where he wanted to go next. “I decided to come to UMF based upon its esteemed reputation in teacher preparation,” Riitano said, “I came here my junior year for a tour and absolutely loved the campus and feel I got. I couldn’t wait to apply.” He loved the campus so much that he works as an Admissions Ambassador and gladly gives tours to incoming students and strives to make them love UMF as much as he does.

Riitano has had many impact on friends and students, including fellow Bangor High alum, Jake Harris. After both graduating high school in 2015, Riitano went on to college while Harris took a year off. Riitano knew UMF was a perfect fit for Harris and did his best to get him to apply.

“He told me how great the campus was, so I came here for a tour and fell in love with the place,” Harris said, “I would have never come to UMF without Stephen.” Harris is currently a freshman with a major in psychology.

Officer of Financial Affairs for Student Senate, Marshall Maxsimic, believes that Riitano is doing great things as well. They will be working together on the Eboard of Senate, and Maxsimic couldn’t be more excited. “Steve is really involved with a lot of things on campus so he brings a unique perspective,” Maxsimic said, “One example was Operation Give Back through SMEA, which was a huge success so I know that Steve gets results.” Operation Give Back is designed around a Create Grant that was given to the Student MEA last semester.

Baseball: Beavers Fall in First Doubleheader at Hippach Field

Baseball: Beavers Fall in First Doubleheader at Hippach Field

By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer

Seniors of the 2017 UMF Baseball Team (Courtesy of UMF Athletics)

Seniors of the 2017 UMF Baseball Team (Courtesy of UMF Athletics)

The sun was peering out from behind the clouds, and the weather seemed perfect for the UMF Baseball team’s debut game at Hippach Field this season. The Beavers came out to an impressive crowd for a Tuesday afternoon, sporting their new striped jerseys and ready to take on Husson University Eagles for a conference doubleheader.

“Having played twenty-one road games and having no outside practices,” said Head Coach Chris Bessey, “it felt phenomenal to get on Hippach and play…in front of home fans was great and I think reenergizing to our players for the stretch run of the season.”

The Eagles came out attacking in the second inning earning their first run. It didn’t take long for the Beavers to answer back. Shortstop Jimmy Parks hit a single to get the team going. Up next was senior first baseman Mark Leahy, who crushed a double, sending Parks around second, where he lost his helmet. The intensity of the stadium rose as Parks came around third; he was going all the way. He dove head first into home plate, just barely beating the catcher’s tag. Parks emerged from the daring play to his teammates swarming him off the bench.

By the fourth inning, the weather started to take a turn for the worse as the rain began to fall. As the field became more wet, the Beaver’s bats became dry. The team would go on to record only one more hit that game. Despite the strong defensive showing by the team and freshman pitcher Justin Rodrigue, the Eagles proved to be a threat at the plate in the first game with nine hits and the 5-1 win.  

With a quick half hour break in between games, the team didn’t get much time to shake off a loss. “In between games, we just mentally prepared,” said center fielder Tyler Flayhan, “and talked about trying to grind out our at-bats and put more runs up in the next game.”

Among the fans in the crowd was Eric Aguiar, a member of the UMF golf team. He has attended three games this season. “It’s difficult this year to go to a lot of games because of the heavy winter and the late melting of the snow,” said Aguiar, referring to the fact that until this game, the Beavers played all home games at Husson due to the conditions of Hippach Field.

“I enjoy watching the team because I hang out with a lot of the guys that play,” said Aguiar, “so it’s fun to go out and support the Beavs.”

UMF struggled finding their rhythm at the plate early in the second game, while Husson sent home three runs in the third inning. The Beavers battled back though, matching the score in the fourth inning. Husson came back with two scores in the following inning, leaving the teams with final score of 5-3. UMF improved their hits to seven.

“Losses are never fun,” said Flayhan, “but with such a busy schedule, we have to flush it and move on to the next games and focus on those games.” Flayhan wasn’t exaggerating about their busy schedule. The team went on to play an additional four doubleheaders that week.

The Beavers’ record fell to 3-20, while the Eagles improved to 20-14. “Out of our 20 losses, 15 have been by 3 runs or less, which can be frustrating on everyone,” said Bessey. “The job is to learn from every situation and get better from it, make the adjustment to succeed, not dwell on the failures.”

“I’d say that we just need to find a way to get the bats rolling some more, but our pitching and defense has been pretty solid all year,” said Flayhan. “Once the hitting comes around, we will be all set.”

Student Spotlight: Julianne McLaughlin

Student Spotlight: Julianne McLaughlin

Julianne McLaughlin accepts her award. (Photo Courtesy of Julianne McLaughlin)

Julianne McLaughlin accepts her award. (Photo Courtesy of Julianne McLaughlin)

UMF’s representative this year in the Maine Policy Scholar Program, political science major Julianne McLaughlin, presented her extensive research on the implementation of proficiency based learning standards in Maine at the scholarship program’s annual graduation ceremony in Orono last week following an initial presentation at our own Michael D. Wilson Symposium. In her research, McLaughlin concluded that the conflicts surrounding the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not due to a fault in the CCSS itself, but the result of other factors such as limited availability or easy access to resources for teachers and parents to utilize and understand the standards. She will be sending her final policy recommendations to Maine’s Commissioner of Education.

Earth Day Festival: Farmington’s Coachella

By Autumn St.Pierre, Contributing Writer

Recently, the Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC) hosted the Earth Day Festival at UMF to celebrate the environment with the campus and the community.

“It is meant to be an educational and fun event that allows people to enjoy music, food, and speakers while enjoying the outdoors,” said sophomore Kelly Toomey, a student leader of SCC.

Earth Day is one of SCC’s largest events and it has been put on for at least five years. “This year we had UMF students and alumni speaking on behalf of the importance of water conservation and eliminating food waste,” said Toomey.

The speakers included Louise Villemont, Donald Hutchins, and Holden Cookson. There were performances by Matt Hernandez, Clefnotes, Nuclear Salad, and members of the UMF Live Music Club.

A lot of preparation goes into this event. “We need to reserve a location at the beginning of the semester, and from there we have to find a set list of UMF musicians, plan a menu of local food, organize speakers, and gather prizes to raffle off,” said Toomey.

“This year we raffled off Fiddlehead Festival t-shirts, fruit and vegetable seeds, and free movie passes to Narrow Gauge Cinemas.”

Next year SCC would like to have the event earlier in the day to have warmer weather and more daylight.

“We would also like to organize some speakers from the community, people that have worked in the sustainability field that could really give us some good insight,” said Toomey. “Next year we would also like to have a 100% local menu.”

Sodexo generously sponsored the event this year with food mostly local to Maine. “Overall, the Earth Day event has been going strong and we really enjoy the relaxed nature of the event,” said Toomey.

SCC puts on several sustainability events every semester. Toomey and a co-worker pick up all of the food waste from the dining hall and bring it to the Farmington Cooperative Compost site. Compost gets delivered to the UMF pile three times a week.

SCC also maintains projects such as the Thrifty Beaver, a new thrift store and food pantry for students and staff.

Professor Lucas Kellett, co-leader of SCC with professor Drew Barton, have been involved with the club for five years. Kellett oversees the paid students. “We have eight of them right now,” said Kellett.

Kellett helps coordinate events with the community. “It’s mostly a student run organization,” said Kellett. “I’m basically there as an advisor and to facilitate what they want to happen.”

Along with effectively maintaining projects, plans for the next academic year include SCC adapting new ones like a campus garden or greenhouse.

“We want to keep things going, keep that wheel of sustainability going,” said Kellett.

SCC meetings are held every Monday and Friday at 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room 113 in the Education Center. The SCC offers paid and volunteer positions.

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