May is shaping up to be a great month for Marietta Middle School teacher Mark Doebrich.
He celebrated his 56th birthday last week, will soon be officially retired after 35 years in education and Friday he was honored with The Right Path's Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Doebrich was surprised with the award Friday morning during an awards assembly for Marietta Middle School eighth graders. Cathy Harper, coordinator of The Right Path for Washington County, presented the plaque.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Marietta Middle School teacher Mark Doebrich left, gathers with members of the MMS Builders Club after receiving the Right Path's Humanitarian of the Year award Friday during an assembly at the school.
"I was shocked," said Doebrich afterward. "I've worked with Cathy Harper for a long time, so I figured when she walked in it was for one of the kids."
Doebrich, who lives in Marietta with wife Lynn, has been a part of The Right Path since its founding in 2003, said Harper, but he has been fulfilling the organization's goal of promoting healthy youth development since long before that.
"He really is a champion for youth. His Builders Club has always been a big part of our Righditarod (food drive)," said Harper.
Looking back on his 35 years as an educator, overseeing youth programs such as Builders Club-a Kiwanis International Middle School Program-will be one of Doebrich's proudest accomplishments.
"These kids are our developing leaders. They do all kinds of community service projects," he said of the group that he has guided since he began working at the middle school 21 years ago.
Middle school eighth-grader Jachob Gerhart said he is proud of all the service work the Builders Club has accomplished.
"We did Halloween in the Park and helped clean up at the Kroger Wetlands,"said Gerhart, who added that Doebrich, who teaches math and science is one of the best teachers he has had.
Doebrich also founded High Schools that Rock. The group started as the Marietta Middle School Guitar Club about 15 years ago and the free weekly lessons during the school year have now grown to include surrounding school districts and students of all ages.
MMS eighth-grader Josh Thorton takes great pride in the lessons.
"I've learned to play guitar. I am working on a 'G' chord now," said Thorton, 15.
Instead of disbanding the group when he retires, Doebrich hopes to expand it.
"I already met with (MMS Principal) Will Hampton and said I'll sub or do whatever you want but I need the keys to that guitar room," he said.
Doebrich also served as the middle school principal from 1992 to 2008. When he arrived, the school was just beginning a remodel, and completing that was another one of his big accomplishments, he said.
"As soon as I got here I had to oversee the renovation of a very old building. That's when I started going gray," he joked.
Doebrich plans to keep busy after retirement with some of his many other community service activities. He also teaches guitar at the O'Neill Center and volunteers with the Red Cross and area food pantries.
"I like to volunteer and those are the three big ones. I don't want them knocking on my door. I want to come to them," he said.
A summer guitar camp and summer science camp will also keep Doebrich busy.
Doebrich, who likes to highlight the work of his students, said that all of the extra curricular activities are simply part of the job as an educator as far as he is concerned.
"As a teacher that's what you're supposed to do. It's not just 'OK, I work here and now I go home,'" he said.