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Day: July 15, 2018

Shop teacher served MHS students for 36 years

Of the Keizertimes

Doug Stuivenga joined the faculty at McNary High School 36 years ago because he wanted to serve.

“I became a teacher because I think as a Christian we’re called to lives of service and I felt like I was providing a service to Keizer and Keizer’s been beyond kind to me,” Stuivenga said on his final day at the high school.

Stuivenga came to McNary in 1982 to teach drafting and electronics.

“I didn’t really expect to stay at one place that long but the neat thing about my experience here is that whenever I’ve started to feel like I’ve done this long enough, things would change,” Stuivenga said. “I really had a chance to do all kinds of different things over the years and stay in one school and do it.”

To keep up with the all the changes in drafting, Stuivenga took evening classes and went to summer school.

When he needed industry experience to become vocational certified, he spent a summer working at Boeing Portland.

When McNary didn’t have enough full-time hours Stuivenga taught freshmen and junior English along with his drafting classes. When Stuivenga felt like he couldn’t keep up with the changes in software of computer drafting, he requested to move to teaching only English.

“I felt like I needed to know every single command on the software and what it did and I just couldn’t, and probably nobody does today but at that time I thought I should be able to,” Stuivenga said.

“It was a great year. It was really fun. Every period that came in, I was hotter and more prepared and my jokes worked better.”

After a year of teaching only English, he moved back to drafting.

“I thought a school this size really should have drafting so I went back to that again and built the program up,” Stuivenga said.

After attending a series of state-wide planning meetings looking at why schools weren’t producing enough students that were prepared to go into engineering, Stuivenga began emphasizing engineering in his classes.

“If they (students) come in here to take computer drafting, we’re learning the software and how to draw and make stuff but engineers have to solve the world’s problems so now that you have those skills, here’s a problem that you have to solve and you guys are going to be in a team and work together and figure out a solution,” Stuivenga said. “What they are really getting is a precursor to what it’s like to be an engineer. If they took two or three years from me, they left with a really good foundation with some great life skills and some ideas of how the world works.”

Along with drafting and English, Stuivenga also taught technical theater and was advisor for McNary’s yearbook for three years.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Stuivenga said. “There’s never been a day when I didn’t have a good time when I got to school, working with kids. They always amuse and energize me.”

Stuivenga didn’t plan on retiring but McNary’s drafting program was dropped in order to add a Geometry in Construction course.

Stuivenga was told he could stay on staff and teach English.

“I considered it and I would have a good time but I thought maybe that’s a good time to gracefully move on with my life,” Stuivenga said. “I could have gone on forever. You’ve got to get up everyday anyway.”

Stuivenga has a smaller shop at his home he’ll have more time for as well as his hobbies—gardening, hiking and photography.

“It’s been a little bit bittersweet,” he said. “I’m going to miss it a lot, especially these last few years in this environment. This is as good as it gets. I’ve got everything I could ask for and the space for teaching what it’s like to be an engineer.”