Steve DeAngelis collects an assignment in his classroom at Maranacook Community High School in Readfield on a recent Wednesday. The teacher, advisor and coach renowned for scholarship and mentoring is retiring. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

READFIELD — In his last class with his honors physics students this month, Steve DeAngelis gave one final life lesson. 

It was “normal” for DeAngelis to end class reading a chapter out of the book, “Letters To My Son,” by Kent Nerburn, but it was even more fitting he picked a story about choosing a career out of passion, not out of how much money it can bring, before stepping away from his own beloved profession.

After 42 years of teaching at Maranacook Community High School, DeAngelis is retiring.

“Every single day, I have a chance to say a billion things to help a student,” he said. “I might not remember what I said, but they do. Every moment can make a difference.”

Students from throughout his tenure at Regional School Unit 38 reflected on the difference he made, fondly recalling something “Mr. D” told them pertaining to their studies, life advice or just how to get through high school.

Those who know Mr. D. would find it shocking that he never wanted to be a teacher, with most knowing him first as an educator, and later as a coach, mentor or someone who will always have their back.


“I don’t think of him as my high school teacher, I think of him as part of my life,” said Taylor Cray, 24, a former student of DeAngelis.  

Cray is a 2016 graduate of Maranacook Community High School and received her master’s degree in global policy from the University of Maine in Orono this spring. She said she would not be where she is today without “Mr. D.” in her life.

As a young student in high school, “terrible at physics,” she found support in DeAngelis, who was her advisor.  

Maranacook Community High School assigns students an advisor at the start of their freshman year. They stay with the same advisor until graduation, when that teacher is the one to read their name as they receive their diploma. Cray was in a unique situation where her mother, Cynthia Cushing, had DeAngelis as an advisor, and her younger sister Ashley, 20, had him as her advisor, too. 

“When I think about people who have changed lives, he comes to mind,” Cray said. “There are a lot of people who he really helped, and when I say he believes in them, I mean regardless — you could be anywhere in life and he would want you to be the best version of yourself. That’s really important, especially in adolescence.” 

And to Cray’s point, DeAngelis’ classroom is filled with jokes, laughter, life lessons, but nothing short of maintaining a challenge.


As observed in his last class with a group of senior honors physics students, the teens are comfortable shouting out answers and explaining how they came to their conclusion. DeAngelis makes students feel comfortable enough to sometimes be wrong but will always encourage them to strive for the right answer.

He wants students to feel like they are always learning. 

Steve DeAngelis teaches a lesson on conductivity during a physics class in his homeroom at Maranacook Community High School in Readfield on a recent Wednesday. The teacher, advisor and coach renowned for scholarship and mentoring is retiring. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“It’s uncomfortable for them to put themselves out there, but that’s also where I try really hard for them to get to know me as a human,” DeAngelis said. “I’m not perfect. They might think since I teach physics, I’m super smart, all that jazz, or they can’t relate to what it’s like to be me, but I think they can. And one reason why I think I’m a good teacher — I remember what it’s like to be in school and what I liked and what I didn’t.” 

DeAngelis took a nontraditional route to becoming a teacher. Despite his mother always believing he would be one, he never thought he would wind up where he is today, retiring as an educator 44 years after first taking a teaching job.

He graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in chemical engineering in 1976, and immediately afterward he started working for Scott Paper in Hinkley. A year or two into his job as an engineer, he lost the feeling of fulfillment. He looked to his co-workers for guidance and asked them why they were engineers. The “golden handcuffs” kept them there, they told him, referring to the financial appeal. 

It was then he saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a chemistry teacher at the newly opened Maranacook Community High School. He thought, going into it, that the job would be “easy” compared to being an engineer. 


“All of a sudden, I was forced to think deeply,” he said. “Kids ask questions, that’s the way it is, but then they’ll ask, ‘Why?’ And it’s a damn good question. The depth I appreciated, and that’s when I knew how hard it was to be a teacher — you have to be versatile and be able to do and explain things in different ways.” 

DeAngelis has taught every type of science class there is at Maranacook and nearly every math class, besides calculus.  

Two years into teaching, he went back to school to get a master’s degree in counseling because of the advisory program the school has. Because of that, he took two years off from teaching and says his career as an educator spans 42 years, despite taking on his first job as a teacher 44 years ago.

Steve DeAngelis keeps a few mementos from his decades as an educator in his homeroom at Maranacook Community High School in Readfield. The teacher, advisor and coach renowned for scholarship and mentoring is retiring. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

He took up coaching the Nordic ski team — a sport he did not have experience with beforehand. He coached track and girls’ basketball before but picked up Nordic ski to “get out of the sweaty gym” and ended up falling in love with it, eventually helping the team earn nearly 30 state titles.

Even after his students have been out of the classroom for years some still maintain contact with him, like former student and advisee Nicky Mathieu, who asked him to ordain her wedding. Mathieu is celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary this year to her husband, Nate, who also attended Maranacook.

“He seemed like a perfect fit — he can talk to people in an engaging way,” she said. “He did the talking, and behind the scenes my mother made (the marriage) official because she was a notary public, and he has since become (a notary) and done other weddings. We had some thoughts we put down and he added his own and wore his Einstein tie, of course.”


It’s unclear whether DeAngelis will officiate more weddings upon retiring, but he does plan to spend more time with his family — his wife, Tara; his sons, Tyler, 29, and Luca, 24; and his daughter, Hannah, 32, who along with her wife, Aleah, welcomed DeAngelis’ first grandchild, Ari, this past year.

He was elected Tuesday to a three-year term on the Readfield Select Board.

And he also will run his new nonprofit, The Steve DeAngelis Community Fund, which aims to provide young people living in the towns served by Regional School Unit 38 access to mentoring, training, educational and recreational opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t receive. The organization will raise funds to provide grants for people to pursue vocational training and enable them to seek more fulfilling and higher-paying jobs, for instance. He wants to help them find the money for cosmetology school, or to get their Commercial Drivers License, he said. But he also wants to work with school officials to identify students’ needs that can’t be met by the school district, and try to bridge the gaps.

RSU 38 includes Readfield, Manchester, Mount Vernon and Wayne.

“I want to make it so help is accessible,” said DeAngelis, who built the nonprofit with community members and former students, including Cray, who serves as a board member.

The goal is to help bring jobs and resources to the people within the community.

“I think with Mr. D., regardless of who you talk to, you are going to hear a similar story of how he supported and cared for someone,” Cray said.

There will be a three-day open house this weekend at 34 Sturtevant Hill Road to celebrate DeAngelis and the launch of his nonprofit, on Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Monday from 4 to 8 p.m.

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