Retired professor and alumna Philomena McPhee-Brown – known fondly among her colleagues as “Phil” or “McPhee” among students – had a lasting impact on the Thomas College Education program and its graduates. Though she now spends her days at home in Turner, Maine, or enjoying the sunshine in Florida where she likes to swim and golf, she worked tirelessly for just under 30 years to support students who themselves wanted to become teachers.
Before joining Thomas College as a faculty member, Philomena earned her own Thomas degree at the former Silver Street campus, majoring in Business Education. Following graduation, she taught for ten years at Lewiston High School before moving to New Jersey to pursue her master’s degree. It wasn’t long before she returned to Maine and received a call from Dick Begin at Thomas College.
“The College was relaunching its Business Education program,” she recalls, and wanted her help. “For 12 years, I was a department of one.” Then, in 2000, former Head of Admissions Rob Callahan led the charge to expand the school’s market and offerings, including in education, by adding an Elementary Education degree. Philomena, along with fellow now-retired associate professor Ellen McQuiston and current professor Dr. Wally Alexander, helped to establish the program.
As one of her areas of focus, Philomena supervised the student teaching program, helping to connect bright Thomas students with area schools. In more recent years, she partnered with her colleagues to help lay the foundation for what is now the Center for Innovation in Education.
“Part of what kept me teaching for so long was the camaraderie among Thomas faculty and working with students I knew I could help,” she says. “To hear from alumni now, knowing that I made an impression on them – that gives me great satisfaction.”
*This article was originally published in the Fall 2019 Thomas Magazine.