DIXFIELD — Dirigo High School’s longtime teacher, Karen Phair, has been chosen as the state’s Family and Consumer Science Education Teacher of the Year.

Phair, who has taught the subject taken by all seniors, as well as some students from other classes, for 29 years, was completely surprised by the honor.

She was nominated by Lorraine Tanguay, a teacher of the same program at neighboring Mountain Valley High School.

“It’s nice to be recognized,” Phair said. “But I feel like there are so many teachers who aren’t recognized. The award affirms us.”

Phair said she felt immediately at home at DHS when she walked in the door on her first day.

“The teachers here have taught me something amazing. I may have gotten the award, but I’m no better than other teachers,” she said.


She described family and consumer education as academics meets the real world.

In her course, similar to other family consumer education courses throughout the state, Phair teaches students how to plan careers, eat healthy, reduce stress and balance their lives.

She’s not sure whether talking to kids about the correlation between eating with the family and grades, how to keep track of finances and create budgets, learning CPR and a multitude of other topics will make a difference, but she tries, she said.

One of the major projects all seniors must complete is a career portfolio that contains such things as resumes, letters of recommendation, college applications and many other documents that help students prepare for the future.

An exhibition of these portfolios will be displayed on April 3.

While seniors complete a portfolio, juniors job shadow, sophomores complete community service and freshmen must begin exploring careers.


Phair said she was surprised when she was presented the award at a recent assembly. Judges look for programs that are innovative and different, something that helps students prepare for what’s ahead, she said.

They learn good nutrition, how to better communicate, parenting preparation, financial literacy and many other life skills.

Phair graduated from Minnesota State University at Mankato and received her health certificate from the University of Maine at Farmington.

She and her husband, David Phair, have three children and two grandchildren.

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