Teacher Tuesday: G2S’s Jim Urbon, ending where he began — education.

June 2, 2020

Teacher Tuesday: G2S’s Jim Urbon, ending where he began — education.

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Metalworks, 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.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

SCOTTVILLE – After graduating from Tennessee Technical University in 1976, retiring Gateway 2 Success math teacher, Jim Urbon started his teaching career in Lansing for one year, before he was laid off.

“I graduated with a degree in education, endorsed to teach math, biology and social science,” he said. “After initially teaching one year in Lansing in 1976, I was laid off due to a drop-in student enrollment.”

Laid off and looking for work he turned to a completely different line of work for many years before returning to the classroom.

“I have a social worker license, as well,” he said. “I became a parole officer with the State of Michigan and worked 33 years before retiring. I started teaching again at G2S in 2016 after securing state re-certification.”

Having had a love for math and working with youth, Urbon credits G2S with giving him the ability to return to one of his true passions.

“I wanted to make math relevant to those students who say there is no need for math education,” he said. “I still have not managed to do that as well as needed. G2S gave me an opportunity to come out of retirement and return to a profession I desired and was trained for but missed due to the circumstances of the time.”

Urbon said during the last four years at G2S, he has really enjoyed working with the students and faculty.

“I have enjoyed working with my colleagues at G2S particularly Mrs. Zumbach, a PhD candidate teaching English who is brilliant; Mrs. Newberg, a reading instructor who has a heart of gold and is funny; and Dan Lubin, our inspiring kind science teacher,” he said. “I am the ‘bad teacher,’ who cannot match their skill level, so I don’t fit in anymore, hence retirement.”

Anyone who meets Urbon would notice his sense of humor and he has used that to engage students and to keep education fun and light-hearted, instead of dreadful and boring as many students view school, especially math. Urbon said teaching during the pandemic hasn’t been as bad as expected and that he has found ways to make it enjoyable for himself and his students.

“My concern is that if I get this (coronavirus) I am going to die because I’m an old man,” Urbon said kiddingly. “Teaching online is clearly the only choice we had to continue educating students, and it has been interesting and fun. I trust some combination of face-to-face and online education will continue. I miss direct interaction with students because it is easier to understand students’ expressed nuances.”

Urbon said he has many things waiting for him after he retires from education.

“My wife has a ‘honey-do’ list a mile long,” he said. “I’ll be occupied for at least a year, then I’ll write a book.”

Joking aside, Urbon had a few words of advice and wisdom for those looking to go into education and for those he has had the opportunity to work with.

“Teaching requires a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” he said. “Don’t do it if you can’t bring it. It takes courage to be compassionate. Moderate behavior leads to generosity and humility and that is what makes a good leader.”

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