Education Spotlight: Jack and Cheri Stibitz, father-daughter teachers.

September 23, 2021

Education Spotlight: Jack and Cheri Stibitz, father-daughter teachers.

Education Spotlight is a presentation of Shelby State Bank, with offices in Ludington, Pentwater, Shelby, Hart, Hesperia, Manistee, Montague, Whitehall, North Muskegon, and Fruitport. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — Jack Stibitz and his daughter, Cheri Stibitz love teaching at the same school district. Mason County Central. Jack, a 1973 graduate of Mason County Central, has taught at MCC for 27 years. Cheri, a 1997 graduate of Ludington High School, is in her 15th year teaching at MCC. 

Jack began his teaching career as a football coach. “Jack Rabine was my football coach during my senior year of high school. He got me involved in coaching in 1995 and he was my inspiration to pursue my dream of teaching and coaching.”

Jack continues to coach the junior varsity football team, for a total of 31 years. He also coached wrestling from 1988 to 2010. 

Jack has taught multiple grade levels during his career at MCC, from sixth grade through high school. “My favorite class to teach was psychology,” he said. He has also taught a variety of math and social studies classes. Jack currently teaches economics, world history, algebra, and U.S. history at MCC High School. 

Cheri spent several years as a substitute teacher before being hired at MCC. 

“When I was in sixth grade at Pere Marquette Elementary school we were able to work with kindergarten students in a student mentor program.  Mrs. Reed was the kindergarten teacher (she was also my kindergarten teacher) and  I loved working with kids (even though I was a kid myself)  I wanted to be a teacher ever since then so that I could mentor young students into being productive members of our community.”

Cheri is currently a third grade teacher at MCC Upper Elementary. “I teach all subjects including reading, writing, English language arts, math, and social studies, but my favorite subject to teach is science. 

“We are the only third grade classroom in Mason County to participate in the salmon in the classroom that affiliates with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  We will raise 150 salmon from the eyed egg stage (the eggs we get will already be fertilized) and will release them into the Pere Marquette river in the spring.”

Cheri is also a coach. She has been coaching cheerleading for 15 years and started the school’s competitive cheer program. She has also coached soccer. 

“My educational philosophy is quite simple,” Cheri said. “All students are capable of learning if provided the right environment in which to do so.  It’s my job as a teacher to provide the right environment so we successfully educate students into becoming productive members of our society.”

Her father echoed that philosophy. “All students can learn,” he said. “I hope to inspire students by bringing energy in the classroom. As a teacher, you have to get to school early and stay late and offer tutoring to the students before school, after school, at lunch and during your advisory period.

“You need to be passionate about what you teach,” Jack said. “I use a lot of real life examples while teaching. I like to change up the pace of the class. Get the students out of their seats and get them involved in classroom activities. I want to relate the subject matter to real life.” 

Cheri said it’s important for a teacher to get to know the students. “You need to understand what they like and don’t like. Then, I use those likes and dislikes to incorporate important learning concepts so it means something to them.”  

Another key, Jack said, is for a teacher to enjoy the job. “I love my job and I look forward to coming to school and being able to work with the students and athletes.”

Jack said modern education has its challenges. Cell phones in the school deteriorate the educational process, he said. Getting students engaged in school functions is also a modern challenge. Cheri said COVID-19 is certainly a big challenge. “Some students in my classroom have not been in a formal public education setting since the middle of their first grade year,” she said. “There are huge academic gaps that need to be addressed in each and every classroom because students have not been in school.” 

Knowing her dad is teaching in the building next door is inspiring to Cheri. 

“Family is important to me,” she said. “When I was in high school my dad went back to school to become a teacher. In fact, when I was in college my brother, myself and my dad were all going to college at the same time… my poor mom!” 

Cheri said her dad quit his job while she was in high school so he could attend college. He started working as a substitute teacher. “It was seriously my worst nightmare to walk into a classroom that my dad was teaching for the day. You know how high school kids can be. One of my first teaching positions was that of a long term substitute at MCC, just three doors and a corner away from my dad’s classroom. We rode to school together often and ate lunch together nearly  every day. I loved it. Now, even though we are in different buildings, we still sometimes ride to school together and I even take my class over to the high school to meet my dad every year. I feel really lucky that I get to work right next door to my dad.”

Jack said he loves the fact that his daughter also teaches for the same school district. “In the off seasons of coaching we ride to school together. We talk in the parking lot when we get to school around the same time. I am thrilled that my daughter is in education and chose our school to work at. It makes it special to be able to go over and watch the magic Cheri performs in her classroom with her students.” 

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