By: Makena Vass
The moment Carol Doermann came to Glenelg, she described it as being “a breath of fresh air.”
Eighteen years later, Doermann, math department instructional team lead, Calculus teacher, and advisor of Calculus and Key Clubs, will retire from teaching and move to Buffalo, NY with her husband.
Though Doermann has taught at Glenelg since 2005, her job is more than untangling complicated Calculus problems. Her passion for showing students their potential originates from encouraging and guiding people in her own life.
Doermann grew up in rural Pennsylvania on a farm as the sixth of seven kids. No one in her family had ever gone to college and the guidance counselor at her school voiced that she would be no different.
“Anyone who knows me, knows that that’s just going to light a fire if you tell me I can’t do something,” Doermann said.
When she set her mind on going to college, nothing could stop her, not even her own family. Doermann said she would get in trouble for reading at home, so she read in secret by the glow of a dusk-to-dawn light to avoid getting in trouble.
“Reading is the way I escaped the farm and it gave me everything that I wanted to do to be better,” she said.
In high school, the guidance of a teacher helped her find her way to college where she planned to major in physics. However, she found that she needed to learn more math to support her major. Taking additional math classes revealed her love for the subject and sent her under the wing of a high school math teacher.
Defying expectations, Doermann not only went to college, but she graduated with a math degree.
Her teaching career began in 1987 when she took a job in Montgomery County, MD as a middle school math teacher. She worked there for ten years before leaving the profession to help raise her three daughters. When she returned to teaching in 2000, she was a professor at UMBC from 2000-2002 and a teacher in Montgomery County from 2004-2005.
Throughout her teaching career, Doermann said she’s had many significant influences. While working at a middle school, she met another mentor, who taught her how to teach in a way that reached students through the content. Her husband taught her how to study. Her daughters made her realize that many teaching methods are not as good as teachers think, letting her adjust and find her own method.
“I became a much more human teacher once I had children,” Doermann said.
Still, Doermann said she never felt quite at home until she came to Glenelg in 2005.
At first, she found coming back to work after seven years at home with her daughters to be difficult, but the people at Glenelg erased any worries she had.
“I remember thinking about how kind the kids were as they held doors open and created real conversations with each other and the staff,” Doermann fondly recalls about her first impressions of the school.
To say Doermann is a reflection of the Glenelg spirit is an understatement. She has been the center of thousands of students' and many teachers' lives. She always strives to do better and her efforts have made her one of the most beloved teachers … to people such as:
Natalie Livensparger, a senior, who explained how Doermann, “never let her students feel dumb. She always provided extra help for math during lunch and made sure everyone was understanding what was happening before moving on.”
And to Josh Mize, a math teacher at Glenelg for 13 years, who said, “she’s like our team mom. She has always led by example in terms of having us keep in our mind what’s best for students at the forefront. She has always challenged us to be better.”
And to Betzy Mejia, a junior, who said, “she’s one of the best math teachers I’ve ever had, for sure. With her you can usually grasp the concept in class and if you don’t she’ll always try to explain it to you. Even if you don’t get it or do really bad on a test she doesn’t judge you because she knows the material is difficult, but she wants you to try regardless.”
And to Lindsey Christensen, a senior, who said, “she was one of my only teachers who tried to connect with me. She really helped me when I was struggling, and always believed in me and was there to help no matter what and was always positive. I really appreciate that. She’s probably one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.”
And to Chris Rosas, a math teacher who started teaching alongside Doermann as a Special Education teacher, who said, “she’s been a mentor to me. She’s taken me under her wing and taught me how to be a better person. I’m going to miss her dearly - it’s a huge hole to fill in our department.
In the future, Doermann does not plan to return to teaching, because, “Glenelg has totally ruined me to go anywhere else,” she said. “I have no interest in teaching a high school math class again. Nothing can compare to what I’ve been able to fall in love with here.”
Since 2005, Doermann has met some of her best friends. She remembers when she was asked to be the Key Club sponsor, going to a past student’s wedding, Rosas calling to tell her about having his first child, and all the thank you notes people have given her.
Doermann has undoubtedly become a central figure in the community. From the physics teachers in her high school to her fellow Glenelg teachers, she is grateful for the people who helped her find her place. To give back, she has created the Doermann REACH (remember, empower, act, care, honor) scholarship to make college more accessible for students.
Scholarships funded Doermann’s path to college and she wanted to give her students the same opportunity.
She says that creating the scholarship, “gives me a chance to reach back to help others to find a new path in their future that they may not have been able to pursue because of financial hardships.”
She has also given back through Pi Day, where students and faculty can donate food to a local food bank. This tradition was first celebrated in her room and has continued to happen every year on March 14.
The community will miss Doermann and she will miss those in it, too.
“I will miss the kids, and the energy that comes with them,” she said. “I will miss taking a kid who didn’t think they could do something and showing them that they can. I will miss going to sporting events and seeing kids outside the academic classroom and finding a place where they shine. I will miss my friends in the math department.
I have fallen in love with the school, community, and the students. Everything about it. I will miss Glenelg immensely.”
On behalf of Glenelg, we will miss you too, Mrs. Doermann.