PRESQUE ISLE — The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Alumni Association honored two alumni with awards of distinction during recent Homecoming activities.
Cynthia M. Jones received the Distinguished Educator Award, presented to an alumnus/alumna who has received ongoing recognition as an outstanding educator, and James O. Donnelly received the Distinguished Alumni Award, given to an alumnus/alumna who has made long-term contributions to the Alumni Association or the University or has achieved professional recognition.
Jones graduated from UMPI in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Working toward that degree as a young mother was no easy task, but completing it allowed her to secure a teaching position in the MSAD 20 (Fort Fairfield) school system, where she had a long and successful career.
She served in several teaching positions, including Title 1, Grade 4, multi-age K-1, and Kindergarten. In addition to teaching, she served in several leadership positions, including teacher mentor, building leadership team member, and as part of a team of teachers who piloted programs and designed curriculum. She has also mentored many student teachers from UMPI over the years and has been a strong supporter of the university’s education program.
“Cynthia is the most committed teacher I know, always putting in extra effort and countless extra hours for the benefit of her students and colleagues,” Rebecca Woodman, MSAD 20 teacher and longtime colleague, said in nominating Jones. “Her passion for education is evident in the many projects, materials, and activities she incorporated into her classroom routine.”
This includes the recycling program she initiated that involved students collecting pop tabs from soda cans so they could see first-hand what ‘a million of something’ looked like, while simultaneously helping the community. It took many years for her classes to collect the first million tabs, and the second million was completed in four years.
Jones has been named the Teacher of the Year for MSAD 20 twice, most recently for the 2011-2012 school year. She has also been the recipient of MSAD 20’s “Apple Award,” which is bestowed upon teachers who regularly go “above and beyond” and serve as a role model to other educators. She retired from teaching in spring 2015, but has returned to the district this fall as a part-time pre-K teacher.
Donnelly graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1990. He served as the Student Senate president, president of his fraternity Kappa Delta Phi, and was involved in several other campus activities. He is expected to graduate from Malcolm Baldrige School of Business at Post University with his MBA later this year.
He graduated from the Leadership Maine Program (Gamma class) through the Maine Development Foundation, and has graduated from the New England School of Banking at Williams College and the American Community Banker’s National School for Senior Management at Villanova University.
Donnelly serves as senior vice president, director of retail delivery at Bangor Savings Bank, where he oversees all retail interaction, including the bank’s extensive branch network, retail operations and Customer Care Center. He previously worked for two other banks in his 24-year career in banking.
He began in 1991 as a management trainee. He has worked as a teller, new accounts, branch manager, small business relationship manager and a middle market relationship manager before advancing into executive management.
He served in the Maine Legislature from 1991-98, representing Presque Isle and Mapleton in House District 145 and leading his caucus as minority leader in the House in the 118th Maine Legislature. He was also the youngest member elected to the 115th Legislature and the youngest minority leader in the country in the 118th.
He serves on the board of Eastern Maine Health Systems and the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, is chairman of Maine Bankers Legislative Committee, and serves as vice chairman of the Independent Community Bankers of America, Mutual Bank Council. He has also served on the State Ethics Commission, Loring Development Authority and chaired a United Way of Eastern Maine campaign. He coached youth sports in the Brewer area for more than a decade, and lives in Brewer with his wife, Melissa, and their three sons.
The awards were presented at the annual Homecoming Brunch. During the event, the classes of 2011, 1991 and 1956 were also honored.