Merriam-Webster defines “teacher” as “a person whose job is to teach students about certain subjects,” but colleagues, friends, and students of Doug Trumble would assure you that this definition is too narrow.
Doug, who received his M.A. in Teaching and English Certification from MU in 2003, has taught English and Humanities at Toms River High School East for the past eleven years. During this time, he has developed a reputation as one of the best teachers at the school, with Principal Anne Baldi, saying, “He is unquestionably one of the most versatile and effective teachers in our building.”
And it’s not just the administration that recognizes Doug’s teaching acumen, either.
In 2012, East’s graduating seniors unanimously voted to honor Doug with the “Spirit of the Raider,” an award that recognizes a standout teacher or staff member. Baldi recalled asking one student why Doug deserved the award, to which the student replied, “I’ve never had Mr. Trumble in class, but I think I have always known who he is; he has said hello to me every day for the past few years as I passed his door.”
Doug’s influence continues beyond the classrooms and halls of Toms River High School East, too—graduating Monmouth senior Kristen Harz will attest to that. It was she who nominated him for the William Roberts Charitable Foundation Outstanding Teacher Award, an honor awarded to teachers who have made a significant impact on the lives of their students.
“When an instructor provides the means for his students to both enjoy a subject and to look forward to learning each day,” Kristen wrote in her statement of nomination for the award, “that individual needs to be recognized for the special talents that they possess.”
It would seem that the Outstanding Teacher Award Committee was in agreement as well, as Doug graciously accepted the award on May 15 of this year.
Ask anyone who knows Doug, and they’ll tell you he’s a great teacher, one of the best, but it’s why he’s a great teacher that makes him a rare and beloved educator.
How Monmouth helped me achieve my goals
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn,” and it’s that third edict that seems to truly set Doug apart as a teacher.
In her nomination letter, Kristen recalled reading the novel Of Mice and Men in Doug’s sophomore English class. She said, “He could have read it out loud like any other teacher. Instead, he not only recited the text in the imagined voices of the characters, but he also dressed as them. He did this with every single book we read in class. I have never had any other teacher who went out of his or her way to make students’ learning experience as enjoyable as possible.”
Doug’s accessible, interactive teaching style can trace its roots back to his time as a student at MU. He describes his method as, “focused on making connections with the students, regardless of academic prowess,” a style he attributes to experiences student teaching as a requirement of his master’s degree program. It was during that time that he met Paul Looney, a mentor who would help shape Doug into the teacher he is today.
“My student teaching experience at Ocean Township High School under the watchful eye of my
supervising teacher, Mr. Paul Looney, was an experience that helped me form my own philosophy as a student-centered educator. Mr. Looney’s guidance, humor, knowledge of literature, and patience with his students truly molded the way in which I perceived how a classroom should be managed.”
More than a decade after student teaching, Doug is, now, able to truly define what it means to be a teacher.
“Teaching is about the student and allowing him or her to acknowledge a connection between reality and fiction. I’ve found that knowledge is best gained through experience, communication, and participation.”
Why I'm proud of Monmouth
For Doug, creating connections for students doesn't stop just because they exit his classroom—with some students, he has found another link he’s come to value.
“My pride in Monmouth University always grows each year around graduation time. I’ve been lucky enough to have a number of former students attend and graduate from Monmouth. I am especially proud of Kristen. It feels like only yesterday that I was teaching her in my Sophomore Honors English class or that it was her senior year, and I was writing a letter of recommendation describing my pride as a Monmouth alumnus and how much she deserved to be a member of the student body. I was thrilled four years ago when Kristen told me she would be attending Monmouth, and I am as thrilled today knowing she is a graduate and fellow
It’s in the words of administrators like Anne Baldi that it becomes clear that Doug Trumble is one of a rare breed of teacher who do more than tell or teach. It’s in the kind words of former students like Kristen Harz that dictionary definitions of what the words “teacher” and “educator” are found to be inadequate, incomplete. But, perhaps, it is in the words of Doug himself that what sets him apart from other teachers can be found:
“My greatest success in the classroom, and as a coach, occurs when reality and fiction become one. That, in my eyes, is a truly teachable moment; one that will carry beyond graduation or the playing field.”