ASHBURNHAM – Eric Dawley, who teaches physical education and serves as the sports director at Oakmont Regional High School, was recently recognized with the school’s 33rd Excellence in Education Award.
“Eric is one of the most humble, down-to-earth, yet compassionate people I know,” said R. Lincoln Stiles when he announced Dawley as this year’s award winner during a staff meeting in the school cafeteria. “He knows how to involve and keep children busy, be it in class, during training or as a spectator at a game. He not only pays attention to what is best for the student and athlete, but also what is best for his colleagues, his school and his community. “
Stiles, who teaches history and is a coach at the school, said Dawley was a special kind of teacher, colleague, and friend for everyone in the Oakmont community.
“There’s a saying that a real Spartan bleeds green, and Eric certainly bleeds green,” said Stiles.
Dawley, who has worked at Oakmont Regional High School for 16 years, was joined by his family on June 17 as he accepted the award. He said the honor was an unexpected one, especially after the challenges he and his colleagues have faced in the past 15 months.
“In all honesty, everyone in the room deserves this award this year for what everyone has done for the good of the children in this building,” said Dawley. “Whether athletics or music or academics, everyone here has done everything possible to get to this point to this day. I am grateful for the award on behalf of everyone here. “
During his tenure in Oakmont, Dawley was active in the school community and sports program, noting Stiles, and coaching the girls ‘junior lacrosse team, boys’ junior varsity football team, and junior college and college basketball Teams. Dawley was the main coordinator of the Spartan One basketball camp for several years and even volunteered as an assistant track coach during his early years in the district, Stiles said.
“Eric has had a profound impact on the culture of our entire school,” said Wendy LeBlanc, who teaches business at Oakmont. “At the unified basketball games and track meetings, the stands were filled with students, colleagues, teachers, administrators and other community members. Eric really treated the unified teams the same way as any of his other varsity programs. (He) does this because he loves Oakmont and cares for all of his students and wants them to have the best experience they can. “
In April, Dawley was awarded the President’s Award of Merit 2021 by the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Athletic Directors Association, Stiles said. The award recognizes seniority, outstanding achievement, and contributions to high school athletics at the local and state levels.
“(Dawley) was one of eight winners in the state, and it was an honor he received with little fanfare or celebration given that he’s so humble as a person,” said Stiles. “A lot of people at school didn’t know he got it.”
The event also honored Rector David Uminski, who is retiring after 35 years at the school. The school’s faculty recognized his service to the Oakmont community by presenting him with a box of golf balls and a painting of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet.
“The appreciation that the teachers have shown me not just today but over the past few weeks is overwhelming and humiliating,” said Uminski. “It really hasn’t arrived yet, (and) I’ll miss this place very much. It’s equally sad and excited about the next steps, but I know Oakmont will continue to be a great school. “