Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

PORTLAND — For 15 years, Bill Ridge has carried a multitude of titles during his time at Holy Cross School in South Portland: social studies teacher, Latin teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, technology coordinator, event supervisor, and many others.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, he added another one: 2023 Maine Catholic Schools Teacher of the Year.

“It is said that teachers forever leave a mark on the students they teach. The impact Mr. Ridge has on an entire school community is unmatched,” said Bishop Robert Deeley during the presentation of the award at the Diocese of Portland building in Portland.

In addition to the bishop, among the attendees at the presentation were members of the Ridge family, including his wife, Martha; parish and school staff; Fr. Jack Dickinson and Fr. Alex Boucher of St. John Paul II Parish, of which Holy Cross School is a part; the selection committee for the award; Marianne Pelletier, superintendent of Maine Catholic Schools; and Tim Stebbins, principal of Holy Cross.

“There are so many amazing Catholic school teachers across the country, and we do it for completely different reasons than other people do their jobs. All the Catholic school teachers who do this for the right reasons, helping kids learn how to make good decisions in their lives based on the framework of faith, it can’t be more important,” said Bill Ridge. “I appreciate this so much.”

“He is a true leader of faith and a wonderful example for all of our students,” said Stebbins. “Bill Ridge fosters a love of learning in his middle school classrooms with every subject he teaches. When you observe Mr. Ridge teach, it is obvious that there is mutual respect between him and his students. He gives his heart and soul to Holy Cross. It’s not just the academics though, students grow in emotional, spiritual, and social ways that cannot be measured on a report card.”

His colleagues describe Mr. Ridge as “exuding Catholic values in everything he does” and “always active in building up the faith life of his students,” including his leadership in organizing school Masses and a new tradition of praying the Rosary in school every Wednesday morning.

“He has an uncanny way of teaching religion to his students that all understand the Gospel and liturgical readings better than what they would without his guidance,” said Pelletier. “There is great discourse, wonderful discussions, and student engagement. He also possesses the ability to be flexible and change with the times to meet the needs of today’s students.”

Those in the Holy Cross community say there is nobody with more respect than Mr. Ridge.

“Staff, teachers, parents, and students all look up to Bill,” said Stebbins. “He dedicates his time and knowledge each day to make Holy Cross a better place tomorrow than it was today. There is no one more deserving than Bill for this distinguished award.”