Remembering Professor Wyman – The Mount Observer

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A passionate, dedicated and talented teacher who will be missed by all MWCC

By Maddie Willigar | Chief Editor

Mount Wachusett alumnus and English teacher David Wyman died unexpectedly on August 12. His presence on campus will be missed by many, and Wyman will be remembered by MWCC as someone passionately devoted to his beliefs, his students, and his poetry.

Commenting on the news, Chairman Vander Hooven said: “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of David Wyman. David was an extraordinary educator, completely devoted to his students. Le Mont has lost a passionate teacher and friend. My thoughts are with his family, friends and the many colleagues who will miss his love and friendship.

After teaching at the Mount for eighteen years, Wyman left nearly two decades of impact and memories at MWCC. Michelle Valois, an English teacher and fellow writer, met Wyman in tenth grade, where they both attended the same high school. However, it wasn’t until about thirty years after graduation that they reunited after Wyman had been tutoring at the Academic Support Center (now called the Learning Success Center), of which Valois was the director at the era.

Although Valois said Wyman had always been a “bit of a rebel”, she described him as “one of a kind”. Valois added: “David was simply a strong believer in fairness and justice.”

After publishing their first poetry books around the same time, Valois said they held poetry readings together. “I would bring my books to sell,” Valois said, “but he would bring his books to give away because he felt poetry should be free for everyone.”

Valois said Wyman, who was a Marxist, had a strong set of “principles” that he followed and stuck to throughout his life. This, along with his intelligence and humor, are what Valois said are some of his best qualities. She also said he seemed like a great father and she admired “his fierce love and loyalty for his child”.

One quality that Valois said most MWCC faculty could probably confirm was his ability to “speak truth to power” and to always share his thoughts and feelings on certain topics at school meetings.

Dr. Laurie Occhipinti, who had known Wyman since he arrived at the Mount in 2016, echoed this. Occhipinti, who is dean of liberal arts, education, humanities and communications, described Wyman as “fearless” and unafraid to ask tough questions.

“As the dean of the college, I could always really rely on him to look at issues very thoughtfully and always bring up any issues or potential issues,” Occhipinti said. Being student-focused, Occhipinti said Wyman is constantly weighing how any policy changes or proposals could potentially help or harm students.

This level of thoughtfulness towards students, along with his obvious passion for writing and literature, are what Occhipinti said are among Wyman’s greatest traits. “He worked incredibly hard in class to make sure he always presented the material in an accessible way for students so they could really progress and learn,” Occhipinti said. But aside from his consideration for these students, Occhipinti mentioned that he also had a great sense of humor.

Working with Wyman, Valois and Occhipinti learned different things from him that they will take with them. Occhipinti explained that because she had no experience teaching English or writing, Wyman helped her understand how “fundamentally important it was for students” and how he, as well as other professors in the college, went about teaching it.

Valois said, “What I learned from him is not something he taught; it was by example. She added: “I just saw someone who kept fighting.” Although Valois explained that she never had a direct conversation with him about it, she believed that Wyman, who struggled with diabetes, often suffered more than people realized.

Recalling a few times she saw him slowly strolling around campus from class to class, Valois said, “He kept persevering.” This “image” of perseverance to go and teach something he loved and was passionate about is one Valois said she learned from and thinks many others could learn from as well.

Outside of the school environment, Wyman was a poet and published two books of poetry, sunrise of the proletariat and Violet ideologies. Some of his poems have also been featured in publications such as shout back, Dissenting voiceand Cat clockwise, with many others. Occhipinti, who saw Wyman read some of his work at a poetry reading a few years ago, said, “It allowed me to see a whole different side of him.”

Regarding Wyman’s poetry, Valois noted that sometimes as a writer it can be difficult “to know which impulse to follow”, but that Wyman had a way of taking “leaps of imagination”. Valois said she admires that her work isn’t “didactic” and doesn’t explain how you should feel or think. Instead, Wyman’s poems constantly had you reassessing and reflecting on what each poem meant to you.

Valois, who was on a writing group with Wyman and two other MWCC faculty members, also explained that Wyman was excellent at reading other people’s work and always gave very thoughtful feedback.

Valois said: “Professor Wyman has devoted his life to words: his own words, the words of his students and the words of all the great writers who have come before him. To honor him, the English Department will host a reading this semester… where students, faculty and staff are invited to come read Dave’s words or the words that inspired him.

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