Teacher Tuesday: G2S’s Sarah Massie, building meaningful relationships.

March 31, 2020

Teacher Tuesday: G2S’s Sarah Massie, building meaningful relationships.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Metalworks. Metalworks is a small, family-run company with facilities located in Ludington and Manistee, manufacturing metal office filing systems. Be sure to show your support by liking the Metalworks Facebook page here.

Mason County Press is featuring area educators each week in a series called “Teacher Tuesday.” We will be choosing different educators from Mason County.

SCOTTVILLE -Being able to have job opportunities near family was something Sarah Massie wanted for a long time. Massie, a 2001 Ludington High School graduate, attended Grand Valley State University to pursue an education degree, which she received in 2006.

Having strong educators in her family, Massie knew she wanted to become a teacher at a young age.

“Both of my grandparents, who I looked up to very much, were teachers,” she said. My grandfather, Larry Sholtey, taught at Ludington High School where he eventually became vice principal and then principal. My grandmother, Joan Sholtey, taught second grade at Pere Marquette Elementary School for many years. From a young age I have always enjoyed working with children and I knew that I wanted to work in a field that was both rewarding and gave me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children. Teaching seemed like the perfect fit.” 

After graduating from college, Sarah and her now husband, Steve, relocated to Chicago, where Steve was attending law school. Sarah received a job teaching reading intervention to kids in Kindergarten through 5th grade at an elementary school in Northbrook, Ill. (a suburb of Chicago).

“I taught at that school for two years,” she said. “When my husband was offered a position back in Michigan, we decided to take the opportunity to be closer to our families and I left that position.”

Once in Michigan, Massie worked as a substitute teacher in various elementary schools until she accepted a position as a paraprofessional in a kindergarten/first grade POHI (physically or otherwise health impaired) classroom in Grand Rapids Public Schools.

After a year in Grand Rapids, Steve was offered a position in Ludington, so the couple was finally able to live out their dream and move back home. Sarah decided that she would take a few years off from teaching while starting their family. She worked at Western Land Services, while raising her two children.

She was still interested in getting back into the classroom, so she decided to take steps to reintroduce herself to the field, this time back home in Ludington.

“When I was contemplating going back into education, I decided to substitute teach for a year in the Ludington Area School District.,” she said. “I worked in kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms during this time and did several long-term subbing positions. I really enjoyed my time in the Ludington Area School District and had an opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing teachers. After my year of subbing I decided that I did in fact want to be back in the classroom and it was then that I took a position teaching special education to middle school and high school students at Gateway to Success Academy (G2S) in Scottville. I am currently in my second year of teaching there.”

G2S is a state funded charter school and has to meet educational requirements, just like any other public school in Michigan.

I think that there are many misconceptions that people have about charter schools in general and what they are exactly,” she said. “We have a wonderful staff that is highly-qualified and they do a tremendous job individualizing education for our students. Our school is growing and working to meet the needs of students within our community.”

Although G2S is a public charter school and follows the same guidelines, Massie wants people to know that there are many differences to G2S that a lot of people might not know about.

“We are a small public school academy that focuses on providing a learning experience that meets the needs of each individual student,” she said. “We are a young school that is working hard to put systems in place that can positively impact the lives of students within our community. We use project based learning to help students make connections between the academic work they are doing and real life applications in order to make the learning experience as meaningful as possible. We try to provide students with lots of hands on experiences as well as a lot of voice and choice within their projects. It is truly a unique learning environment. Our students are also given opportunities to work with community partners as part of their educational experience.”

Massie said she is very excited and proud of her students because they get real world experiences while attending school, which helps them decide what type of job they might enjoy pursuing after graduation.

“Students have also had opportunities to have internships at local companies as part of their learning experiences,” she said. “We also have a great virtual learning program that allows us to meet the needs of students in an online environment. Students in this program are guided by Mr. Phil Quinlan, the virtual learning coach, who has decades of educational experience and works hard to individualize the educational experience of his students.”

Above everything else, Massie said staying involved in the student’s lives is very important. To know them on a personal level can help guide their academic career, but also their social/emotional makeup.

“G2S works to help students with their social and emotional needs as well,” she said. “We are continually striving to create a positive school culture.  We are consistently working to make sure that students feel cared for and supported and know that their voices are heard. I am amazed on a daily basis how our staff goes above and beyond to meet the needs of the students. One example of this can be seen in how they have all responded to the current school closings situation. Every student has been assigned to a care team which is led by a member of the staff. These staff members check in with the students in their care team every day through virtual meetings to be sure that their needs are being met and to connect them with resources if needed. The staff at G2S are truly some of the most caring individuals that I have ever worked with.”  

Overall, Massie said that working with each individual student is what makes her job so great.

“My favorite part of teaching is being able to interact with the students every day and build meaningful relationships with them,” she said. “My students become like my kids in a sense. I enjoy watching them grow both academically and as people throughout the school year. Being a middle school and high school teacher allows me to teach some of the same students from year to year which has been really fun for me. There is nothing better when you are working with a student and they have that “ah hah” moment. That moment when a concept, that they were previously not understanding, becomes clear to them. It is so rewarding to watch and know that you were able to make a breakthrough with a student.” 

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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