Gervais moves on

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Gervais moves on

Robert Gervais

Robert Gervais

Robert Gervais

Robert Gervais

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Robert Gervais, director of integrative technologies and women’s softball coach, has been involved in the Johnson State community since he first arrived as a first-year student in college. Gervais returned to JSC in 2013 with a master’s degree in educational technology. By the end of this semester, however, he will be moving on to a position closer to home as director of technology for the Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union in Swanton, Vermont.

Gervais was originally attracted to the IT position at Johnson because of coaching. “My daughter actually also came to Johnson,” says Gervais, “and she was on the softball team at that point. So I got the chance to coach her again for a couple of years.”

Before he took up the IT position about five years ago, he was director of technology at the Enosburg Town School District in Enosburg Falls and was traveling long distances to be able to coach softball and teach. When the position at Johnson opened, it just made sense.

“I’ve made some close relationships with a lot of the instructors here on campus,” says Gervais. “It’s been a great environment to work in and grow in, so I’ll miss that.”

In fact, Gervais has had the opportunity to work with some professors who had taught him during his undergraduate years.

“He was one of my students,” says Professor of Environmental and Health Sciences Elizabeth Dolci. “Very conscientious, hardworking, mature, responsible student.” Dolci also noted she had his daughter and, briefly, his son as students as well.

Gervais’ work ethic as a student has carried into his career, and there is a resounding agreement throughout faculty and staff attesting to his knowledge, kindness and availability. “I’ve not always taken advantage of his expertise, but I regret it now,” says Dolci. From problems with Moodle to setting up a projector, Gervais has helped Dolci and others integrate technology into their classroom assignments and work. “He’s always there and willing to help.”

Professor of Mathematics Julie Theoret has relied on Gervais for help with a variety of Moodle technicalities, including setting up a telepresence classroom last semester.

“I’ve found him to be really helpful in terms of teaching with technology,” she said. “I would email him a question and he would have an answer almost immediately, even if he wasn’t working. He is very responsive and just really available.”

Other faculty even admit they would be lost without his guidance and expertise. “I’m glad for Robert but sad for us,” says Associate Professor of Writing and Literature Tyrone Shaw. “I’m basically a technology idiot, so Robert was constantly bailing me out of trouble, and he did so with patience, warmth and humor . . . I remember his first introduction to faculty in which he showed us a wonderfully satiric YouTube video called ‘Medieval Helpdesk,’ which helped to put us at ease.”

While faculty and staff will have a hard time to see him go, the softball team may have it harder.

Evidence of his dedication to his beloved sport is evident throughout his office. Posters and pictures of the various years of women’s softball team photos hang around the room; on the wall opposite his desk hangs a thin quilt, spanning floor to ceiling, made up of softball tee shirts and Johnson State jerseys.

To freshman Nicole Mooney, and to many other players on the team, he is often seen as a fatherly figure. “He’s there for us more than just as our coach, and he’s really looked out for me a lot this year,” says Mooney. “The team just really feels like a family, and I feel like a lot of it has to do with him and his attitude.”

She said that not only did his demeanor make her feel welcomed, but his priorities never swayed: “It was really important for me to go to a school where they value academics over softball, and he definitely does that, which is awesome.”

While Gervais has left a lasting impression on Mooney after just a year, Abby McRae, a senior, has known him for a long time. “I’ve known Coach for about five years now,” says McRae. She had first met Gervais at a softball summer camp her senior year of high school, which had ultimately led to her attending Johnson. While McRae will miss him, she is happy for his new prospects. “I am sad to see him go, but I also know this job opportunity is a lot better for him than being here, and he has a grandson at home that he never gets to see, so it’ll be nice for him to be there.”

McRae attributes Gervais’ coaching skills to her steady improvement as an athlete, beginning with the first time they met. “I was swinging, and he looked at me and said, ‘That’s the worst swing I’ve ever seen,’” says McRae, laughing. “From then on, I wasn’t a righty anymore, I was a lefty.” She says his coaching style, wisdom and humor has helped her and her teammates improve their attitudes and their game. “He takes a lot of pride in what he does,” she says.

Will Gervais return to what will soon be NVU? “You never know,” he says. “I didn’t think I’d be back here at Johnson 10 years ago. You can never say.”

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