Victor Valley campus loses beloved instructor Douglas Patch
Douglas Patch was a strong and vocal presence on the Victor Valley (Hesperia) campus for over 8 years as he guided Business Administration program students and improved everything he touched in his role as instructor and colleague. His mindset was always one of “how can we make this better.”
“I still expect to hear him coming down the hallway; he always had a lot of ideas,” says Richard Matley, Campus President. “He’d knock on the door and say, ‘Have a minute, boss?’ He always came with a hearty handshake.” A handshake and some new ideas for ways to benefit SJVC students.
“I always saw him as ‘the man with a plan,’” says Matley. “His thoughts usually included an 8-10 page proposal – more a fully intact presentation than brainstorming.”
Sadly, those well fleshed-out ideas had to be set aside with Mr. Patch’s passing a few weeks ago.
He left behind much more than unrealized plans for enhancing student learning and co-worker motivation; he left behind shoes only he could fill.
“Mr. Patch was not only a teacher, mentor and professor, he was human,” says De Anna Jervis, Business Administration program student. “From day one, I appreciated the way he treated me and other students with respect. Mr. Patch was one of the best men I have ever known.”
“Doug Patch treated his students as leaders – and had expectations that went along with that,” says Matley. “He tried to make them grow in ways they didn’t know they could grow, and he would always push and stretch them professionally and in relationships.”
He shook every student’s hand as they entered and exited his classroom and referred to each as Mr., Miss, Mrs., or Ms. before their last names. Students addressed each other in the same manner. Mr. Patch’s style of teaching was more real-world and hands-on than book-steered. Each class session was structured as a Board Room with instruction and communication conducted in that business meeting format.
“He conducted his class more like a team meeting with managers and sales people,” says Matley. “What is the plan, how will you execute it and what is the successful conclusion? He was training them to be ready for the business world.”
His classroom was a business laboratory, and his students were demonstrating practices they would embody in their future employment. Those students got their first glimpse of real-world business interaction under the guidance and grooming of his high level of experience and expectation.
“When you first meet him, it’s the sense you get when you meet someone and you know they’re honest,” says Zinnia Durado, a 2016 graduate of the Business Administration program who is now First Contact at SJVC’s Victor Valley campus. “He ran our classes like we were all managers, and he molded us to be professionals out in the world.”
It wasn’t all business all the time in Mr. Patch’s classroom. “He was also a bit zany when it came to campus activities,” says Matley. At the time of speaking to Matley, the Victor Valley campus was about to host their annual Halloween “Spooktacular” event for staff, faculty, students, and their friends and families.
“Doug would have been in full costume,” says Matley. “He would have been out there, calling people to his booth and getting people to have fun with it. It would have been some serious fun – and competition (for best booth). He definitely had a competitive nature.”
Doug Patch best expresses his philosophy of teaching in his LinkedIn profile: “In a classroom environment, I treat all of my students like managers (what they want to become), never like a student. This emphasis on the outcome and the development of superior standards, develops outstanding student outcomes.”
Mr. Patch had an almost parental feeling for his students. “He had an effect on them in life, not just school,” says Matley. “In many ways, the students became his kids, and he always wanted the best for them. They knew he cared, and he would tell them, ‘You’re worth more than that.’”
Domonique Ford is forever changed for being one of his students. “Mr. Patch made a huge impact on me,” she says. “I hear his voice every day and because of him, I am way more confident in my future and job choice.”
The loss of such a professional and personal relationship was deeply felt by students, graduates and colleagues of the Victor Valley campus. “On October 5th, our campus had a memory-sharing time in the business lab, a place he had created for students,” says Matley. Doug’s wife Terri and their three children also attended this celebration of Doug’s life.
“It gave students a chance to connect and for Doug’s family to see him through the students’ lives he had touched,” says Matley. “It was comforting for both sides; there was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears.”
Of the roughly 45 attendees, some were graduates, whose lives were indelibly marked by one of their favorite instructors. “Doug had been in the process of contacting alumni to create an alumni event to occur once a quarter,” says Matley. “Some grads had their own businesses or were in management positions, and our students could network with them and see how we, as a College, could continue to be of support to them in their careers.”
On that day, however, students and graduates shared only their grief at losing one of their strongest supporters, one who was a father-figure in their lives. “He was a very inspirational man,” says Durado. “He didn’t make you feel like you weren’t smart if you didn’t know something. He took the time to explain and was always happy to help you.”
The business lab will continue to bolster the future business professionals who occupy that space going forward. It will also bear a plaque dedicating the room as the Douglas Patch Business Laboratory.
And, when the time is right, many of Mr. Patch’s plans, proposals and promises for higher reaches in student support and celebration will come forward with all the hope and energy he envisioned.