Spartan Proud: MCC alumni enjoy working at their school.
By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief, class of ‘88.
Spartan Proud is sponsored by Mason County Central Schools. This series features alumni of Mason County Central telling their stories. Today we feature some of the 48 MCC graduates who make up the administration, faculty, and support staff of Mason County Central Schools.
SCOTTVILLE — Over the course of the last year, I have featured various Mason County Central Schools alumni. Many of these men and women have moved away from the area while others have chosen to either stay or return to Mason County to raise their families or retire. This series began after I was meeting with Superintendent Jeff Mount one day to discuss the high success rate MCC graduates have had in completing college.
We started to talk about some of the well-known alumni of the school, such as Maynard Keenan (class of ’82, lead singer of the band Tool), Edgar Struble (class of ’69, former music director for Kenny Rogers and successful composer and movie producer), Melanie Weaver (class of ’79, chief executive officer at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business Executive Education Department), Kevin Eikenberry (class of ’80, one of the world’s top leadership consultants), and so on. Naturally all of the schools in Mason County have had their fair share of successful alumni, but we wanted to find a way to show the current students that attending a small school often can result in fulfilling big dreams.
Being successful doesn’t necessarily mean moving away. This series has shown a fair share of local alumni who have found success in their lives living right here in Mason County. There are many opportunities here in western Michigan as well. One of those opportunities has often been at MCC itself. The school employs 48 people who graduated from MCC High School.
“From what I hear, see and feel, many of our grads have come back to work at Mason County Central because of the outstanding reputation this district has, the fond memories from their own personal experience, and the desire to make a difference in the Spartan community that gave so much to them in their childhood,” Mount said.
“Hiring MCC grads has proven to be a highly successful longstanding practice. The Mason County Central Spartan community is built on the foundation of a strong work ethic where we believe in integrity, life long learning, treating each other with dignity and respect, and providing a safe, warm and welcoming learning environment for our students. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”
Here’s what some of the alumni employees had to say:
Jeff Tuka, high school principal, class of 1996:
“MCC has been apart of my life since birth. My siblings were students at MCC when I was born. I enjoy that MCC has always been a school that accepts students for what they want to do. We are very diverse like this. Kids here end up taking over their family farms. Kids here have gone on to West Point and everything in-between. I love to hear where my old classmates are and what they are doing. I also love to hear it from our former students.
“MCC is very accepting of hearing our students hopes and dreams and showing them the path and helping them get there no matter what the hope and dream might be.
“I’ve found that our alumni are very proud of their school and many give back and contact us with questions of how they can do that. Some are still local and some are not local any longer. Once a Spartan, always a Spartan.”
Shaleen Schram, Victory Early Childhood Center Montessori preschool teacher, class of 2001:
“The sense of community and friendship with all MCC Spartans current and retired.”
Joan Ruby-Vidak, high school guidance counselor, class of 1987:
“MCC just becomes a part of you. Working in education is exciting because you are always building new relationships and helping students to reach their goals. Working as an alumni in the district just adds to that spartan pride.
“I love being a part of MCC and after all these years, I hope I am able to pay it forward and continue helping students in the same way that the staff guided me so many years ago.
Phil Quinlann, middle school teacher, class of 1979:
“I am grateful to the MCC school community that has given me an opportunity to not only impact the lives of my students (who also inspire me), but to be able to work with some of the most dedicated, passionate and caring co-workers. Carpe Diem!”
Roxanne (Gutowski) Chye, teacher, class of 1997:
““I love being a part of MCC and after all these years, I hope I am able to pay it forward and continue helping students in the same way that the staff guided me so many years ago.”
Kari (Keller) Singleton, instructional assistant, ELL/migrant, class of 1995:
“I love being back in the MCC school system. I truly enjoy getting to know all of the students that I work with.”
Ed Sanders, high school teacher/coach, class of 1985:
“Coming back ‘home’ to teach and coach has been the best part of my teaching/coaching career. There is nothing better than small town school spirit where the community supports everything you do at Mason County Central. I am also very proud and excited that we were able to have our daughter, Jordyn attend and graduate MCC, and now attends the University of Michigan. Even the small town schools like MCC can produce some of the best in the nation.”
Tim Genson, athletic director/high school teacher/coach, class of 1985:
“MCC has been a school that has been welcoming to students and staff alike. My experience is that there has always been a generally warm and inviting environment to grow, learn, and work. Like families nothing is perfect, but I think we have a community that cares.”
Maria (Buck) Urka, high school Spanish teacher, class of 1974:
“With the exception of the first five years of my life, MCC has always been part of my life. Teaching here, as opposed to teaching elsewhere, feels like I am teaching out of my home. The children who have gone through my classroom have all felt like my own and the care and respect that I have given to them have been reciprocated to me ten times over.”
Linnea (Conrad) Miller, high school English teacher, class of 1980:
“I’ve been privileged to attend MCC as a student, to have our children and now a grandchild educated here and to finally work in my chosen profession at MCC. I’ll always think of our school as the practical education option for students who want to find their possibilities whether it be here in Mason County or somewhere beyond these local boundaries. When I worked outside the school system, I was always proud to hear local employers praise our students for their work ethic. Most likely this was instilled by the families and farming heritage of our area, but it was definitely reinforced by the staff, coaches, and organization of Mason County Central. Despite the educational trends or societal fluctuations, MCC continues to be my school and I’m proud to always be a Spartan!”
Jack Stibitz, teacher/coach, class of 1973:
“MCC is like my second family. I always wanted to coach and teach here and was thrilled when I was hired as a full time teacher. MCC is a place where the staff really cares about its students and encourages them to be their best. I have enjoyed working with my teachers I had in high school and looked up to as colleagues and making new friends as new staff came to our school system. MCC is a great place to be in education.”
Roger Bailey, seventh and eighth grade English teacher, class of 1993:
“I have the privilege to teach in the very classroom where I once sat and learned myself. Having the benefit of experiencing Mason County Central as a student and as a teacher allows for somewhat of a historical perspective that helps inspire and drive me today. It also leads me to the realization that I work beside a great group of dedicated colleagues. Many of these colleagues were born Spartans, some of them became Spartans, but all of them share a deep desire to prepare the next generation of Spartans for the many life challenges ahead.”
Amanda (Matevich) Allen, high school teacher, class of 1985:
“I enjoy the family atmosphere here at MCC. We have so many people working here and parents of students who are alumni I feel we all have a vested interest in providing the best for our students.”