Teacher by day, die-hard Bruins fan by night: history teacher Courtemanche impacts his students

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Photo by Alex Peters, photo illustration by Mrs. DeWinkeleer
History teacher Mr. Courtemanche’s favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt, so one of his prized position is his Teddy Roosevelt Bobblehead, which has sat on his desk for over 20 years. The bobble-head has been to every continent except for Australia. This photo illustration was done as a tribute to Courtemanche and attempts to fulfill his dream of becoming one with his idol.

Every morning, history teacher Mr. Courtemanche wakes up from a short night of sleep after screaming at the TV during the Bruins game the night before. He gets ready to go to work in the same way every day, always making sure his dress pants and sneakers match. He walks into room 209, pats his beloved Teddy Roosevelt bobblehead on its head, and is finally ready to influence his students in a positive way to the best of his ability.

Courtemanche found his love for teaching when he was in fifth grade because of his deep interest in history, and as a little kid, found having summers off appealing. However, as time has gone on, he has found teaching is more meaningful than just that.

“As time has gone on, it’s more about the relationships you develop with the students, and how you really have a chance to impact somebody’s life,” Courtemanche said. “That’s huge.”

One of the students who Courtemanche has influenced is senior Kyle Berard. He has had a close relationship for a few years with the history teacher and thinks he’s “an awesome man.”

“He taught me that hard work doesn’t have to be thought of as a chore,” Berard said, “but that you should want to work hard and do well for yourself. He really changed my outlook on school, too. Usually in the classroom we sit down and our heads are in the books, but he likes to go outside the pages and find what the deeper meanings are and to a student, that’s huge.”

Courtemanche arrived at LHS when he was 22 and said he was “always in awe of some of the veteran teachers.”

“I mean this place was such a well-run building to teach in, and I learned so much from some of those people who were here before me about how to run a classroom, how to act, how to relate to kids,” Courtemanche said. “I’ve had some good mentors along the way.”

Courtemanche found his real appreciation for what he does as a teacher when he was the drama club director and had a student, who he said was “very talented but had to be pushed really hard,” that showed the utmost gratitude towards him.

“I do think the first real, heartfelt, sincere thank you had a major impact,” Courtemanche said. “It’s like wow, this is the difference you can make. Those stories are always the ones that stick out to you, the ones where you develop the relationship and the personal connection and you’ve helped some kids. That’s the positive and that’s the best part of it.”

Senior Mason Cooper also had Courtemanche as a teacher for US history and World at War.

“Courtemanche has always been one of my favorite teachers,” Cooper said. “He always made learning fun and found a way to entertain the class. His positivity and encouragement brightened my days, making his class the one I looked forward to.”

As a big sports fanatic, Courtemanche also coaches several sports and is also someone who loves to travel to different places.

“I’ve traveled extensively as I’ve been to Hong Kong, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and I took kids to England on a theater trip back in 1999 when I used to be the drama club advisor,” Courtemanche said. “I also currently coach hockey, soccer, and I’ve coached JV golf just because I love coaching.”

Courtemanche’s honors World at War class has gained a lot of popularity over the years. He designed the course originally with not only the idea of a fun class for him, but also for the students as well.

“Kids have always loved history, and so I thought it would be really cool to design a course for kids to just take a pure history course,” Courtemanche said. “I had two grandfathers who fought in World War II, and so for me, and as someone who has done a lot for veterans throughout the years, I wanted to really create a course dedicated to them.”

As somebody who expects a lot out of his students, Courtemanche expects a very good work ethic and has stayed consistent with that over the years.

“I think my biggest struggle is expectations because I have extremely high expectations,” Courtemanche said. “So when people don’t meet those expectations, I tend to take that too personally, and it’s something that I’ve gotten better at throughout the years, I hope.”

As the years go on, students continue to develop a great appreciation for Courtemanche, as he has become one of the most influential teachers here at LHS. He was the Dollars for Scholars Teacher of the Year in 2004, and last year the seniors asked him to speak at Baccalaureate, which is a great privilege for teachers.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Courtemanche
Courtemanche has raised his son to also be a die-hard Bruins fan. They are season ticket holders, so they attend many games together each year.

“Speaking at Baccalaureate was a ton of fun,” Courtemanche said. “I enjoyed it thoroughly, and it was a great honor to represent a class so it was really awesome.”

Recently, the yearbook staff announced that the seniors dedicated the 2018-19 yearbook to him.

“Any award you get that’s chosen by the students means a tremendous amount to me,”

Courtemanche said. “To know that you’re making a difference in people’s lives is huge, and to have such a great grade choose me was a huge honor.”

Although he has been teaching here at LHS since 1996, Courtemanche still has that same passion and excitement for teaching that he had when he first arrived on the scene. His love for his kids is something that drives him even more every day, as they will be students here at LHS very soon.

“I would love for my kids to be proud of me,” Courtemanche said. “Having them here will be neat, an interesting challenge in some ways, but I hope it will be a positive experience for them.”

Not only do the students appreciate Courtemanche for the teacher and person he is, but staff members past and present he has known for years appreciate him as well.

“We did the teacher talent show together, and we did practices after school for like two weeks,” English teacher Mrs. Wooding said. “He just went all out just because he was in it to win it, and we won that year.”

Courtemanche is also a die-hard Bruins fan and sometimes gets a little crazy during their games.

“Something people might not know about [Courtemanche] is that he does a ton of push-ups,”

Wooding said. “Whenever he watches the Bruins, every time they score he does a certain number of push-ups. So one year at the pep rally they did a push-up challenge, and he just killed it.”

He also does push-ups during Patriots games, doing the same number of push-ups as the amount of points the Patriots have each time they score.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Courtemanche
Courtemanche and his daughter share a special moment at a Fishercats game.

Retired AP Gov and Humanities teacher Mr. Vaughn has known Courtemanche for 20 years.  Although they are friends and have a great deal of respect for one another, Vaughn and Courtemanche enjoy joking around and taking digs at each other.

“He really knows his content area, and that is why [Courtemanche] is easily one of the top three World at War teachers at LHS,” Vaughn joked. “He also integrates technology in his classroom flawlessly because I don’t think I have ever seen a professional use a dry erase marker and an overhead projector with greater flair and aplomb.”

Vaughn also said that Courtemanche is a master in the skills of rhetoric and debate.

“However, please be forewarned that when [Courtemache] says ‘let me tell you my opinion,’” Vaughn said, “just sit back and realize that will be at least 30 minutes of your life that you will never get back. He’s a goober, but he’s also one of the best teachers we’ve got at LancerLand.”

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