Teacher Tuesday: MCC’s Tom Richert, a teacher who doesn’t act his age.

July 14, 2020

Tom Richert with some o this students.

Teacher Tuesday: MCC’s Tom Richert, a teacher who doesn’t act his age.

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By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

SCOTTVILLE – Tom Richert is no stranger to high school drama, in all forms of the word. Richert, a Mason County Central High School English/language arts teacher said he rarely “acts his age” in the classroom. Richert is a 1981 graduate of MCC and graduated from Western Michigan University in 1985 with a fine arts degree in theatre education, communication education, and English. 

“I have taught high school for 35 years,” he said. “I did my student teaching at Kalamazoo Central and Hackett Catholic Central. My first teaching position was in West Palm Beach, Florida. I managed a 1,200 seat auditorium, and taught drama I-IV, and speech. I also directed the drama program. I taught two years and moved back to Michigan and taught two years in the theatre and design and production departments at Interlochen Arts Academy. I missed public school and had the opportunity to come back to MCC, where I have been for 30 years.”

Tom Richert

Managing a full-time class load, teaching English and language arts, Richert also directs the drama program and has been the forensics coach for 30 years, which makes him one of the longest standing coaches for any activity at MCC.

For anyone who knows him, Richert enjoys having fun with students and tries to make each day an adventure.

“I have enjoyed bringing humor to the classroom,” he said. “I want to laugh, and enjoy the day’s work, and I hope my students do too. I really love it when we have deep conversations about the texts we are working on. To see students process characters and delve into the depth of a character’s motivation is a real treat for me personally. I also enjoy watching students grow in their love of literature. To hear a student say that ‘English’ has never been their favorite class until having my class, is what it is all about for me.”

Having that sense of humor helps Richert develop great relationships with his students and he believes that building relationships is one of the most important factors for those looking into education as a career choice.

“I would say to a person wanting to become a teacher, make sure you are a people person. The hours are long, the work is hard, but the rewards are numerous,” he said. “You will make a life-long connection with your students, if you choose. They will teach you as much as you have taught them. Do not be afraid to show them that you care about their success. They need to really believe that someone is in their corner. Many students come to your classroom with broken hearts and broken lives. Go easy on them, and always, always demonstrate that you can be there for them.”

Those relationships were something Richert really missed when the governor declared that all Michigan schools turn to non face-to-face learning. 

“The coronavirus has been very difficult on teachers who love the job and classroom,” he said. “We need face-to-face, we have to be with students as quickly as possible. So much is being lost not being with students in the classroom. High school isn’t just about information they get from a book. It is interaction with an instructor and with peers to grow in knowledge and experience. That doesn’t happen from a distance. We are ‘social’ creatures, and ultimately desire social interaction, and that is best demonstrated in the classroom.”

It is clear that Richert has a clear love for teaching and the interactions he has with his students, but he also cares very deeply for his work relationships as well.

“I plan to continue teaching, I have a great principal, and wonderful peer teachers,” he said. “I am getting to be the old guy down the hall, and that is funny for me because anyone who knows me knows I hardly act my age.”

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