By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — “Supportive,” “encouraging” and “dedicated” were just some of the three words Dearborn High School students used to describe their video teacher, Kurt Doelle, who will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Doelle took his love for film and TV to DHS where he worked with and taught DHS students about film and TV for almost 30 years.
The Grosse Pointe native became involved with DHS in 1989 after he heard about a cable supervisor job opening while working at WDIV Channel 4.
“I came around Dearborn High a lot and got to know Russ Gibb and I liked it a lot,” Doelle said. “There was never a shortage of creative and talented students.”
He earned his bachelor’s degree in film and TV, his master’s degree in communications and a teaching certification, all from Wayne State University.
Doelle began teaching the program introductory classes in 1994 before Gibb, founder of WDHS (now Russ Gibb Digital Media Center), retired in 2004.
Following Gibb’s retirement, Doelle took over managing the program and teaching students about film production.
“Film has been something I have enjoyed since I was a little kid,” Doelle said. “I love the process behind film making and watching an idea come to life.”
Doelle mentioned that working with and learning from his students has been his favorite part of teaching in the program.
“I will miss the students the most because they motivated me,” he said. “They have such great, original film ideas and if you let them run the show it results in something funny and authentic.”
He added that lessons he hoped students take with them is not to have an ego while working with others, always listen, and buy into their ideas.
“I’ve learned just as much from my students as I have taught them over the years,” Doelle said. “
Doelle also expressed his gratitude for the city and school district for supporting the students and the video program’s ideas.
“Students have had some unconventional ideas for filming which involved closing Greenfield Village once,” he said. “There is no other place we could’ve gotten away something like that.”
Doelle doesn’t have any plans for what he will do following retirement but he did say, “iIts time to do one more crazy thing” in terms of his next chapter.
Over his time teaching in the video program, hundreds of full-length and short films have been created by students with some going on to win Emmy Awards in the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Michigan student competition.
On the night of the program’s annual film festival, DHS senior William Dobbs reflected on having Doelle as a teacher.
“There would be no studio or program without him,” Dobbs said. “He is dedicated and cared about the art. Mr. Doelle would stay after school until 9 p.m. some days to help us edit films like “Stunted” just so we could have it done in time for the festival.”
DHS senior Sema Alsaid and added her thoughts on Doelle.
“He’s a great teacher that I learned so much from,” she said. “He is so supporting and encouraging. I will miss him and his class which was like one big family.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)