Obituary: Michele Vickers Forman, 1946-2017 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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Obituary: Michele Vickers Forman, 1946-2017 

click to enlarge Michele Forman
  • Michele Forman

After several years of dealing with complications of dementia and type 1 diabetes, Michele Forman died on August 28, 2017, at her home in Salisbury. She is survived by her husband, Dick, and three beloved children: Elissa (and her husband, Ron Bush); Laura (and her partner, Rae Miller); and Tim (and his wife, Imelda Stamp.) She is also survived by her adored granddaughters, Anna and Juliana; her brother, Jack; her sister, Maureen; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins. She was pre-deceased by her parents, Theodore and Dorothy Meenan Vickers.

Michele was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1946 and was raised in the Deep South. She dropped out of high school, moved north and studied history at Brandeis University. Michele served in the Peace Corps from 1967-1969, teaching in western Nepal. This experience engendered a passion for learning about peoples’ experiences in other cultures that shaped the rest of her career.

Michele taught World History at Middlebury Union High School for 29 years. Her classroom was a joyous jungle of giant plants, student art, maps, posters, provocative slogans, old couches and new ideas. Michele was selected as the National Teacher of the Year in 2001, an honor announced by President George W. Bush in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House. He cited her work in the classroom, her introducing the study of Arabic language and culture to her students, her scholarship, her work on education policy in the US, and her tireless service to history teachers across the country.

Michele treasured her connection to Vermont, but she was a global citizen -- determined to understand and engage with the world around her. She was passionate about peoples’ history, peace, equity and social justice. She studied, worked and travelled extensively, from a Fulbright program in Senegal to meetings with the Japanese Education Ministry. Recognizing that the Arab world has been misrepresented in the West, Michele strived to help her students and her professional colleagues across the US appreciate the richness of Arab history and culture. She studied Arabic at Ohio State University and at Middlebury College and then taught Arabic language and culture at Middlebury Union High School.

Michele’s involvement with a number of professional and academic organizations included serving as a longtime member and chair of a College Board Academic Advisory Committee, president of the World History Association (2006-2008), an AP World History Consultant, co-writer of the National World History Standards, a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow in the National Leadership Program for Teachers and an Executive Committee member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Michele completed an MEd at the University of Vermont and taught there briefly. She was awarded three honorary doctorates, including one from Middlebury College.

Michele was also dedicated to serving the community. For many years, she and her young children made weekly visits to residents of the Helen Porter Nursing Home. She also helped start the first infant car seat program at Porter, served a term as president of the Porter Auxiliary, was in the first group of local Hospice Volunteers and served on Court Diversion panels.

Michele was an avid cross-country skier who often rode her bike to work when there was no snow. Silver Lake was a favorite hiking destination. She sewed elaborate teddy bears for new babies, and her gingerbread was beyond compare.

Over the past 18 months, Michele received excellent care at Project Independence and UVM Medical Center. Hope Hospice and Palliative Care helped care for her in Rhode Island, and Addison County Home Health & Hospice provided phenomenal care when we brought her home to Vermont. Following a sudden, severe illness last October, she was primarily cared for by her family, nurse Randy Dobbins, and several loving and attentive caregivers.

The family will be holding an informal gathering to honor Michele on Saturday, September 23. We’ll share some of her favorite foods, sit around and talk a bit, turn on a microphone at about 2 p.m. for anyone who’d like to say a few words, catch up with each other, maybe take a walk, and above all enjoy the afternoon. Just the sort of thing Michele would want us to do. If Michele ever touched your heart, please join us. Please email Dick at forman@middlebury.edu for details.

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