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UMPI announces Educator, Distinguished Alumni awardees

Monday, 09 September 2013

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The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Alumni Association will honor two alumni with awards of distinction during the Homecoming 2013 activities during the Sept. 12-15 weekend. The annual alumni award presentations will be made during the Homecoming Alumni and Friends Brunch, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 10 a.m. in the President's House.

Alumnus Michael Thibodeau will be honored with the Distinguished Educator Award, which is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has received ongoing recognition as an outstanding educator. This recipient may also have shown active or supportive involvement with the Alumni Association, support of the university, a successful career that reflects well on the University, and outstanding leadership qualities.

Alumna Christine Smith will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has made long-term contributions to the Alumni Association or the University, or who has received professional recognition that has reflected positively on the University.

Michael Thibodeau graduated from the University in 1966 with a Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education. He went on to earn his Master's degree in Natural Science in 1970 from the University of Oklahoma. He currently teaches earth science at Lesley College and Introduction to Physical Science, Space Science, and Earth Science online. For the past two years, he has served as the Program Director of Lesley University's Science in Education Online Program in the School of Education.

He has 35 years of experience as a science educator at the middle school, high school and college levels. He began his teaching career in 1966 at Old Town Junior High School, and went on to teach at middle and high schools in Massachusetts before joining the faculty at Lesley University.

For nearly two decades, Thibodeau has spent his summers in the Bay Area of California. In 1991, he was selected to participate in the Teacher Research Associates Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he worked with a team of geologists on the Hayward Fault Trench Project and later worked as a mentor to other teachers in the program. Most recently, he has served as coordinator of the Academies Creating Teacher Scientists Program, a research program for in-service teachers supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science.

Thibodeau has delivered presentations at several national and professional conferences and maintains several professional affiliations; he is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of Science Teacher Educators, the National Science Teachers Association and the National Earth Science Teachers Association.

Thibodeau was honored in 2004 with a recognition award by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, for "Outstanding Service as Master Teacher with the Pre-Service Teacher Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory." He also is the recipient of the Tandy Technology Scholars Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, 1993-1994.

Thibodeau and his wife currently reside in Marblehead, Mass.

Also being recognized is Christine Smith, who graduated from the University in 2005 with a Bachelor's degree in International Studies with a History concentration and an English minor. Prior to attending UMPI, she earned her Associate's degree in Legal Office Administration from Northern Maine Community College. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law in 2008.

Upon receiving her law degree, Smith returned home to practice law and serve the people of Aroostook County. She was hired as the attorney for the Hope and Justice Project and, for the past five years, has traveled all over northern Maine to meet with clients affected by domestic violence and advocate for them in area district courts.

This summer, she took on a new challenge, opening up her own law office in Fort Fairfield, where she serves as the only attorney located in the town and provides legal services to residents across Aroostook County. She continues to work with the Hope and Justice Project on a contractual basis and continues to provide legal advice, assistance and representation to those in need in the central and southern Aroostook region.

In nominating Smith for the award, Bonnie DeVaney, Director of Career Services, said: "Chrissy is an exceptional young woman who is smart, caring, personable and an outstanding role model. I am very proud of her achievements and her commitment to help others in need."

The Alumni Awards will be presented to Smith and Thibodeau at the Sept. 14 Homecoming Brunch. During the event, the classes of 2003 (10 years), 1988 (25 years), and 1963 (50 years) also will be honored. For more information about this event, please contact Keith Madore, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at 207-768-9568.