LRMS teacher dies in Route 302 crash

Hundreds gathered at a field in the Holt Pond Preserve last Sunday to celebrate Adam Perron's life. (Photos courtesy of Kevin Murphy)

Hundreds gathered at a field in the Holt Pond Preserve last Sunday to celebrate Adam Perron's life. (Photos courtesy of Kevin Murphy)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

In his yearbook, Adam Perron wrote that his goal was to make the world a better place.

He discovered a passion for science. He spent hours researching and gaining valuable knowledge that he hoped to pass on to others, thus creating awareness.

He worked diligently to protect the amazing environment that surrounded him here in the Lake Region, be it pulling milfoil from local streams and lakes to prevent is spread and choking off waterways or installing sign posts in Pondicherry Park. Adam was fully-invested during his years at Lakes Environmental Association.

And, he ultimately found a higher calling — being a teacher, who could unlock the potential of young teens and pass along a valuable gift — knowledge and understanding of the world around them. He was hired as a seventh grade science teacher at Lake Region Middle School this past fall and made an immediate impact upon colleagues and inspired his students.

“Adam was an amazing individual,” Lake Region Middle School Principal Matt Lokken said. “Adam brought real life experiences to the classroom, which is why he really connected with kids. His background in LEA (Lakes Environmental Association) and those experiences he brought to the classroom was awesome. As a person, he was without a doubt the most present, engaged individual I’ve been around. He had a real passion for sustainability, ecology, the greener movement. Whenever he talked to students or adults, his attention was on the topic. He was an easy-going guy. He was a calm and solid individual.”

Line of cars copyAdam Perron of Harrison was killed in a two-vehicle collision last Wednesday on Route 302 in Casco. He was 29.

At about 1:15 p.m., Perron was driving west in the Watkins Flat area when his 2009 Pontiac Vibe was struck by a 2013 Isuzu box truck, registered to Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods of Westbrook), and operated by Joshua McNally, 31, of Westbrook.

According to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, McNally swerved into the path of Perron, striking Perron’s vehicle on the driver’s side. McNally’s vehicle continued down over a small embankment and rolled onto its side. McNally was ejected and, as the truck rolled, McNally was pinned under the vehicle.

Perron was pronounced dead at the scene and McNally was taken by DART medi-vac to Maine Medical Center, with serious injuries.

Members of the Sheriff’s Office Accident Reconstruction Team, Criminal Investigation Team and members of the State Police Commercial Vehicle Unit handled the investigation. The cause of the fatality has yet to be released.

Naples, Casco and Raymond emergency personnel responded to the scene. Route 302 was closed to traffic from State Park Road to Tenney Hill Road.

Adam and his wife, Beth

Adam and his wife, Beth

Heartbreaking news

News of the popular teacher and environmentalist’s death left friends, colleagues and students heartbroken.

Some paid tribute by attending the Earth Day cleanup on Thursday. (See related story and photos).

Others ventured to a field Sunday in the Holt Pond Preserve — a place that was incredibly special to Adam — where hundreds gathered to share their feelings and memories for a young man, full of promise and dedicated to his family and the world around him.

Colin Holme, assistant director at LEA, said Adam was able to get so much done because “he immersed himself in the situation.”

“Adam led by example and made friends wherever he went. Because of these characteristics and his witty humor, he worked on and led many successful projects at LEA. When he and his friend, Daniel Bishop, started working at LEA as water testing interns in high school, they developed a methodology which streamlined the process and set a high bar for future interns to match,” Holme said. “He spent countless hours doing trail work for our organization at the Holt Pond Preserve, on the Stevens Brook Trail and in Pondicherry Park. If he was working with other people, his energy was contagious and the work, no matter how grueling, somehow became fun. The comradery he brought to the milfoil control team on the Songo River is what allowed them to succeed in removing this invasive plant from the busiest waterway in the state.”

LOSS OF A FRIEND P1 Earth Notes By Mary Jewett Special to The News I was supposed to be writing this column about my wondrous trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands last week. I even switched dates with another Earth Notes writer to make sure I could submit it right after I got home. The islands and mainland were amazing and I look forward to sharing my experience at another time, but now is not the right moment. On the night before the last day of the trip, I got the news that my dear friend and colleague Adam Perron had died in a tragic car accident. To say I was shocked is an understatement. As I write these words I am still trying to come to grips with the enormity of this loss; to his friends, his family and the Lake Region community. His passions and skills impacted this community in many ways. I’m sure his obituary will be in this issue and my own tribute may be redundant in its praise of his accomplishments, but I need to say my part in any case. Adam and I shared a passion for teaching, which stemmed from our experiences as students at Lake Region High School. We were both inspired to become scientists and environmentalists by our amazing teacher, K Bolduc. While working together at the Lakes Environmental Association, we had many conversations about the kind of educators we wanted to be. We agreed that to incite passion for science and the environment educators had to have that passion themselves. Adam had that passion. Not only was he a great teacher, he was also genuinely curious about the natural world. He continued to educate himself about different topics so he could better share his knowledge with students, both as an LEA educator and more recently as a science teacher at Lake Region Middle School. When Adam left LEA to join the middle school team, it didn’t feel like a loss to science education in our area. He had served well as the Education Director at LEA, but with his move to be a classroom teacher, he was fulfilling a life goal, which began in high school. He wanted to be “that” science teacher. He wanted to be the teacher that inspired kids to become passionate about science and the environment. He and I had that in high school, which set us both on the path that led us to this point. And in the short time he had at the middle school, he was becoming “that” teacher to many students.  I continued to work with Adam to enrich his curriculum for his students. During my time spent with him in his new role, I saw that he really was fulfilling a dream. Working in the classroom was where he needed to be and, as his friend, witnessing that was a great thing.  There are many parts to this tragedy, so many hopes and dreams that will not be complete without this great man. As I write this, I am beginning to see one part in a clear light: Adam was poised to become “that” science teacher to countless students over the next few decades. He was and would have continued to be a lifelong educator, sharing his passion with students who would go on to change the world, just as he did. In an effort to support future educators Adam’s wife, Beth, has started a scholarship fund to help people who want to teach achieve their goals. If you would like to donate to the fund please make checks out to The Adam Perron Scholarship for Educators and mail to: Elizabeth Perron, 31 Walker Mills Road, Bolsters Mills, ME 04040.

LOSS OF A FRIEND
By Mary Jewett
Special to The News
I was supposed to be writing this column about my wondrous trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands last week. I even switched dates with another Earth Notes writer to make sure I could submit it right after I got home. The islands and mainland were amazing and I look forward to sharing my experience at another time, but now is not the right moment.
On the night before the last day of the trip, I got the news that my dear friend and colleague Adam Perron had died in a tragic car accident. To say I was shocked is an understatement. As I write these words I am still trying to come to grips with the enormity of this loss; to his friends, his family and the Lake Region community. His passions and skills impacted this community in many ways. I’m sure his obituary will be in this issue and my own tribute may be redundant in its praise of his accomplishments, but I need to say my part in any case.
Adam and I shared a passion for teaching, which stemmed from our experiences as students at Lake Region High School. We were both inspired to become scientists and environmentalists by our amazing teacher, K Bolduc.
While working together at the Lakes Environmental Association, we had many conversations about the kind of educators we wanted to be. We agreed that to incite passion for science and the environment educators had to have that passion themselves. Adam had that passion. Not only was he a great teacher, he was also genuinely curious about the natural world. He continued to educate himself about different topics so he could better share his knowledge with students, both as an LEA educator and more recently as a science teacher at Lake Region Middle School.
When Adam left LEA to join the middle school team, it didn’t feel like a loss to science education in our area. He had served well as the Education Director at LEA, but with his move to be a classroom teacher, he was fulfilling a life goal, which began in high school. He wanted to be “that” science teacher. He wanted to be the teacher that inspired kids to become passionate about science and the environment. He and I had that in high school, which set us both on the path that led us to this point. And in the short time he had at the middle school, he was becoming “that” teacher to many students.
I continued to work with Adam to enrich his curriculum for his students. During my time spent with him in his new role, I saw that he really was fulfilling a dream. Working in the classroom was where he needed to be and, as his friend, witnessing that was a great thing.
There are many parts to this tragedy, so many hopes and dreams that will not be complete without this great man. As I write this, I am beginning to see one part in a clear light: Adam was poised to become “that” science teacher to countless students over the next few decades. He was and would have continued to be a lifelong educator, sharing his passion with students who would go on to change the world, just as he did.
In an effort to support future educators Adam’s wife, Beth, has started a scholarship fund to help people who want to teach achieve their goals. If you would like to donate to the fund please make checks out to The Adam Perron Scholarship for Educators and mail to: Elizabeth Perron, 31 Walker Mills Road, Bolsters Mills, ME 04040.

LEA is also where Adam started as a teacher, bringing hands-on, locally-based, watershed education into the classroom.

“Adam really loved working with kids, and that is ultimately what brought his path to the middle school. He had an amazingly creative mind and was always thinking about the next project,” Holme added. “Adam was an ideal community member. He was well-educated, reasonable, thoughtful and willing to contribute. As a person, he was a good friend and a proud father and loving family man. It is all very, very sad.”

Alanna Doughty, an LEA educator, said Adam’s enthusiasm and commitment to his students inspire her daily.

“I will take that to heart in the position as the education director following in Adam’s footsteps here at LEA,” she said. “Some rather large shoes to fill! Adam will be with me whenever I am in the woods or wetlands with students.”

Jon Evans, Stewardship Manager at Loon Echo Land Trust, had the chance to get to know Adam by working in the field and also organizing last year’s Earth Day cleanup drive in Bridgton.

“Adam was a young man of great character. He had a dry sense of humor, but very sensitive, loving and a great steward of our planet. He was a tremendous asset to our community,” Evans said. “With LEA, he had a chance to be both a scientist and educator. His true passion was teaching kids. When you have someone so invested, it is bound to have a lasting impression.”

Adam changed careers this fall, taking a science teaching position at LRMS. He joined the seventh grade Katahdin Team, which included Chris Small (the team’s leader) and longtime instructor Nancy Hayes.

“Adam was a unique talent when it came to teaching ability. His subject knowledge was immense, but more so, he was a marvelous person who had the rare ability to connect with all kids. It didn’t matter if the child was a perfectly-behaved honor student or a child that had emotional issues, which impeded his/her academic success. Adam had the ability to make connections with all of them,” Small said.

Adam pushed the entire academic team (Team Katahdin teachers) to conduct an interdisciplinary project on the Flint Water Crisis.

“The team was hesitant at first because we were already working our hardest to make certain that we were completing our curriculums and finding room around the standardized testing schedule,” Small said. “He was so passionate about the subject that we all became convinced of the importance of this project, and we all dove in. Adam may have been known as a rookie teacher in the public school system, however, he had the talent of a teaching veteran.”

Nancy Hayes was away when the accident happened.

“I can’t stop thinking about him. He really was an exceptional young man. I did not know him as long as some of the people, who spoke yesterday at the service, but was very impressed with him. I had close contact with him daily and really saw that he was an outstanding young teacher. I have taught over 30 years longer than Adam, but found that I could learn from him,” Hayes said, “He challenged me in his quiet way. I have seen few who were as committed or gifted as a teacher.”

As others spoke at the celebration of life service Sunday, Hayes wholeheartedly concurred with words used by speakers in describing Adam Perron.

“Words that others used at the service that I wholeheartedly agreed with are nonjudgmental, compassionate, down to earth, fair and very bright,” she said. “He worked so hard to reach his students and to make his lessons fun and meaningful for them. He had so many ideas and plans. Adam was willing to try anything that would meet their needs — in terms of teaching, he was fearless. His students loved and appreciated him. A friend said that he was the ‘real deal.’ He was right.”

Hayes has seen teachers come and go during her time as an educator, and feels Adam was a keeper.

“Adam was exactly what we look for in our students. He was an LRHS student, who came back and made a difference — at LEA, at LRMS and in our community. He was a lifelong learner, who was always open to new ideas and information. He spoke to me of what was happening in the world and how we needed to affect change,” Hayes said. “He taught our kids that they have a role in the community, as well as at school. He was also so proud of his family (his wife, Beth, another LR grad and their daughter, Abigail) and spoke of them often. You could see that he was a great husband and dad. So many spoke at the service about what a difference he had made in their lives as a steadfast and fun friend. He was a terrific role model to our students, as well. He taught them without preaching what a good family member, person and friend should be.”

Like many others, Nancy Hayes was so saddened that Adam had such a future and capacity to reach so many lives but in an instant he was gone.

“It was shocking that his life was over. Another friend reminded me, however, that Adam had already touched so many more lives and made a bigger difference than most people do who have lived a much longer life,” she added. “He did make a difference. He will be sorely missed.”

Before Monday night’s SAD 61 School Board meeting, Chairman Janice Barter spoke a few minutes about a young man and his young wife, both of whom she has known since they were little children.

SPECIAL LOVE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT lured Adam Perron to work several years for Lakes Environmental Association. He looked to share that passion with students, becoming a seventh grade science teacher at Lake Region Middle School this fall.

SPECIAL LOVE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT lured Adam Perron to work several years for Lakes Environmental Association. He looked to share that passion with students, becoming a seventh grade science teacher at Lake Region Middle School this fall.

“(This loss) is devastating to their families and the school community. We were fortunate enough that he came back to teach at the middle school. He was a dedicated student. What I found most fascinating yesterday (at Sunday’s celebration of life service) was the number of people at his service from all different walks of life. Parents, like myself, of kids his age. Friends of his, friends from Colorado, Utah, Orono, high school, even someone from the Department of Environmental Protection in Augusta, which really spoke how Adam not only affected Lake Region, but the state, as well,” Barter said. “One of his friends, Dan Bishop, said on a lark that he (Adam) wasn’t having much fun in his art class so he decided to take an Eco Lab class with K Bolduc. That was the spark that kept him in school, that kept him fascinated and interested in environmental science, took him to LEA where he worked for years fighting to eradicate milfoil in the Lake Region area.”

Barter closed out her comments saying, “In 29 short years, he was a remarkable young man. It’s sad, but every time we go by a lake, a river, we should think of Adam and what he’s done to protect that — that is his legacy…Two of his passions came from this high school. One was his love for the environment. The other was his wife, Beth. Think of the family, keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Barter then asked for a moment of silence.

LRMS: Coping with the loss

LRMS Principal Matt Lokken has dealt with unexpected losses during his education career — mainly children who either suddenly died due to accident or illness.

Losing a teacher was a first.

“In this case, the (vacation) break was beneficial because it gave people some days to process what had happened before they came back to school. I’ve been in a school where a student passed away unexpectedly, and the very next day you are dealing with it — it’s a lot more difficult,” Lokken said. “There was a nice celebration of Adam’s life (Sunday) at Holt Pond, which a lot of students and staff attended, and again, gave them a chance mourn the loss.”

Lokken said LRMS’ “team approach” also helped the school deal with the tragedy.

“The fact that we are in ‘teams’ instead of 417 kids having Adam as a teacher, we had 80 or 90, that reduced the direct impact to students. We did have extra counselors from the elementary buildings come up, and a couple of therapy dogs from the area were brought in, which I saw some kids taking advantage of,” he said. “We also had extra subs on hand to give teachers a break if they needed one. Everyone is wearing blue as a show of solidarity. I am always impressed by the resiliency kids have.”

When schools bring in guidance counselors to help students deal with a tragedy, their approach is to “do reflective listening.”

“They don’t say much. They let kids talk about whatever — just be someone they can talk to, to open up and let their feelings out,” Lokken said. “We have blue and gold paper that kids can write down their feelings or send messages to Adam’s family. They will be linked together as a paper chain.”

Adam was an extraordinary person, Lokken added. “He will be missed.”

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to the Adam Perron Scholarship for Educators, which will help those who want to become teachers at any time in their lives go back to school.

Thank you so much for all of the sympathy and support. I hope to see you all tomorrow. I know Adam would be happy to see everyone cleaning up. We will be setting up a scholarship in his name to support others who feel teaching is their true calling. While Adam was very talented in everything he did, I'm sure he would agree with me that teaching was the most rewarding of them all and would be happy to support others who choose this path.

 

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