A Maine Education: Illustrious Instructors
Some very famous people have taught at Maine academies and colleges. Here are some notables, arranged chronologically.
Daniel Webster (1782-1852), Fryeburg Academy, headmaster. Though he would be best remembered for his accomplishments as a senator and secretary of state (in 1957 the U.S. Senate named him as one of its five most outstanding members ever), Webster ran Fryeburg Academy
for one year shortly after graduating from Dartmouth College.
Elijah Parish Lovejoy (1802-1837), Waterville College (later Colby College), instructor. Born the son of a Congregational minister in Albion, Lovejoy later became a newspaper editor in Missouri, where his anti-slavery comments led to his press being smashed several times. In 1837, a mob set fire to his building and killed Lovejoy. Today a Colby College award in his name honors a journalist who continues Lovejoy’s heritage of fearlessness and freedom.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), Bowdoin College, professor of modern languages. Portland-born poet and author of Paul Revere’s Ride, The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline, Longfellow wrote textbooks in French, Italian, and Spanish during his five-year tenure at Bowdoin.
Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895), Waterville College (later Colby College), professor of modern languages. Author of the song “America” (as in, “My country ’tis of thee . . . ”), Smith saw his composition used as the de facto national anthem for much of the nineteenth century, though it was the “Star-Spangled Banner” that Congress selected as America’s anthem in 1931.
Joshua L. Chamberlain (1828-1914), Bowdoin College, professor of rhetoric and modern languages. Best known for leading the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment to victory at Gettysburg and for his respectful acceptance of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, though he also served as governor of Maine and president of Bowdoin.
Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995), Pitts School, Skowhegan, teacher. Before she was the first woman elected to both the U.S. House and Senate — not to mention the first Maine woman to serve in either body — “Maggie” Smith was a teacher at the one-room Pitts School.
Alex Katz (1927- ), Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, resident artist. Now recognized as a major pop artist, the Lincolnville summer resident served as visiting and resident artist at the Skowhegan school in the 1960s and ’70s, and returned as a visiting artist in 1995.
William Cohen (1940- ), University of Maine, Orono, and Husson College, Bangor, instructor. Initially a partner in a Bangor law firm, Cohen served as an instructor of business administration for four years while also beginning his public-service career as a Bangor city councilor. Later he would serve as U.S. representative, senator, and finally defense secretary.
Angus King (1944-), Bowdoin College, distinguished lecturer. The only independent governor at the time he assumed Maine’s highest office in 1995, King began teaching a “Leaders and Leadership” class shortly after completing his two terms in the Blaine House.
Joyce Tenneson (1945-), Maine Media Workshops, Rockport, instructor. World-famous for her distinctive portraits of women, Tenneson has been an instructor at the workshops (formerly the Maine Photographic Workshops) practically since its inception in 1973.
Stephen King (1947-), Hampden Academy, English teacher. The master of horror taught high school while writing during the evenings; his breakthrough novel, Carrie, was published during this period and provided the means for him to leave teaching.
Gary Thorne (1948- ), University of Maine, Orono, instructor. A brief stint as a lawyer and business law instructor couldn’t keep Thorne from launching onto the airwaves as a sportscaster in the late 1970s. Today he is still a major announcer for ESPN and ABC and is the play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles.
Richard Russo (1949 -), Colby College, English professor. We all know an Empire Falls, but no one could have captured a Maine community as well as Russo. Nobody’s Fool and Bridge of Sighs are simply icing on his impressive literary cake.
Bob Crowley (1951- ), Gorham High School, physics teacher. Even more impressive than being the first Mainer to win CBS’ Survivor was the way he did it, by dominating the immunity challenges and not bowing to the cliques and alliances that usually bedevil the reality program.