Soon, the hallways of Wilmington Middle School will be filled again with the buzz of the new school year. But one recognizable face will be notably missing when the doors open.
Doug Chernovetz, 42, was a veteran seventh grade social studies teacher who impacted countless students before he , reportedly while on a camping trip in New Hampshire with his family.
Teachers and students alike grieved the loss of the popular educator over recent days. Counselors will be available at the school over upcoming days to help the community deal with its loss.
It has been a difficult few months for the Wilmington Middle School community, after his unexplained collapse earlier this summer.
According to Jacqui Duffy, who was in Chernovetz’s class in 2007-08, the educator knew exactly how to motivate his students.
“Mr. Chern was one of the hardest teachers I have ever had,” said Duffy. “He pushed me to study more and harder to keep up with good grades in his class … He was one of the teachers that students felt really connected with.”
Chernovetz was also the head football coach at Marblehead High School, where he had a somewhat choppy tenure. He faced a civil suit against a former player for allegedly intimidating him and also was suspended for two games for chewing tobacco in front of players.
Despite the accusations, former Marblehead athletics director Mike Plansky, currently the AD at Dedham High School, said Chernovetz is widely praised for turning the Magicians’ football program from an also-ran into a contender.
“He was a very intense person, but in a good way,” said Plansky. “As a coach and an educator you try to get the best out of every one of his students. His mantra was he wanted to turn boys into men. I felt that’s what he did for a lot of our kids at Marblehead. Our program was down and negative and he pumped a lot of life into them.”
Former Marblehead player Michael Stamison, who graduated in 2006, is currently the wrestling coach for the Magicians.
“I can honestly say that he had a profound impact on my life, and I am better for having played for him,” said Stamison. “His mantra of ‘turning boys into men’ is something I utilize in my program. True, he was fiery, but the kind of fire that got you to be your best and be accountable for your mistakes.”
In Wilmington, Chernovetz was not only respected by students, but also by his co-workers.
One Wilmington Middle School employee who didn’t wish to be indentified said Chernovetz was a teacher who would always support his colleagues and a man who also featured a great sense of humor.
“He was a very sincere person,” said the educator. “He was great with the kids and got a good response from them, but was strong and had definite standards. He was so fit and took great care of himself. It’s just heartbreaking for everyone and completely unexpected.”
A Facebook group called “R.I.P. Mr. Chern” was created over the weekend, and in mere days following Chernovetz’s death the page already has nearly 800 supporters. The majority of the followers are former students sharing their favorite memories of “Mr. Chern.”
Plansky was responsible for Chernovetz’s hiring at Marblehead, and said the two became friends during their tenure together at the school.
“He taught kids how to do things the right way, and he was able to turn our program around,” said Plansky. “He loved teaching, he loved coaching, and he put his all into it.”