LEWISTON, Maine — We all remember our favorite school teacher. They helped shape who we are, as well as our education. For several students at Lewiston High School that teacher is Bernie Fortier.
Fortier has been teaching Latin at Lewiston for 28 years. Some refer to the language as a dead language without much purpose. Those people have never walked into room B117 where Fortier teaches Latin one, two and three.
"When I teach I'm kind of a loose cannon in a sense of people have compared me to Robin Williams, Steve Martin," said Fortier. "My mind is all over the place and I'm drawing on all of my experiences."
The characters, accents and impressions that come through the teacher's body change constantly during the 80 minutes of class. What may seem like a chaotic teaching method gets students attention and that's the point. While kids, like freshman Ali Abdullahi, are laughing and having fun, they are also retaining information.
"Just his goofiness and his vibe just brings electricity to the class. Just makes you want to learn more," said Abdullahi.
From Monty Python to Star Wars, the movie references are never-ending in Fortier's classes. The Latin just happens to be the subject that these students will never forget and for all the right reasons.
"I want my kids to be critical thinkers in this class," said Fortier. "Yes we'll laugh, we'll have fun, they'll learn about a lot of stuff, but if you can't engage your brain what are you going to do in the future?"
At 61-years-old, Mr. Fortier often gets the question of when he'll retire. He's eyeing that in the next four to five years, but for now he says he's having too much fun to stop.