Teacher Tuesday: LASD’s Michal Lacombe.

July 21, 2020

Teacher Tuesday: LASD’s Michal Lacombe.

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.

LUDINGTON – Ludington Area Schools teacher Michal Lacombe had aspirations of becoming a veterinarian while she was attending college. 

“When I went to college, I had dreams of being a veterinarian, but started doing some volunteer work in elementary classrooms and I was sold,” she said. “I realized that I could connect with kids and help them understand the curriculum. I wanted to be a part of the process of young people realizing their talents. A teaching career was also appealing because it was always new. There are never two days that are the same and I knew I would enjoy that.”

Although she moved around the Ludington district a bit, Lacombe has had the opportunity to live and teach in her hometown. Lacombe is a 1987 graduate of Ludington High School and then attended Western Michigan University and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in the area of communications/public relations in 1991 and a bachelor of science degree in education in 1993. She then earned a master’s degree in education from Aquinas in 1997.

“I have just completed my 26th year of teaching,” she said. “My entire teaching career has been with Ludington Area Schools. I began at Franklin Elementary teaching second grade for seven years. I then moved to Foster to teach fifth grade. I stayed at fifth grade for 12 years, moved to third grade for three years and have been back at fifth grade for the past four years. I teach in the areas of social studies and ELA (English Language Arts).”

Like many other teachers, Lacombe said building bonds with her students and their families has been one of the best parts of teaching.

“We have an amazing community and I feel blessed to get to interact with so many new families year after year,” she said. “I love helping kids discover new ways to apply information and to facilitate their learning. There is nothing better than when you are working with students and you see the connections they are making. I love that the kids challenge me to be a better teacher. They ask amazing questions that get me to dig deeper so we can discover answers or come up with new questions together. I am inspired by these kids every single day.”

Lacombe has had the opportunity to work with students not only within the school walls, but outside of them as well, which she finds very rewarding.

“The love of teaching spills out of the classroom as well,” she said. “I have gotten to coach both elementary and high school kids in basketball and soccer. I get to be involved with after school programs and I love getting to see what clubs, sports, and hobbies kids get involved with. I even led a coding class for two years when I taught third grade.”

Although technology plays a large part in today’s educational systems, Lacombe said that sometimes it can take away from it as well.

The expectations of teaching seem to be constantly changing,” she said. “If I could change one thing about teaching in today’s society, it would be the dependence on technology. It is a double-edged sword. We need to teach kids using technology because that is where society and the demands of education are taking us, but it is challenging to try to keep up with it all.”

With COVID-19 taking hold of the last few months of the school year, forcing teachers to turn to technology, Lacombe stated that it wasn’t nearly as easy as to work over a computer as it is in person because there weren’t those personal connections as much via technology.

“The COVID-19 experience certainly has put a new perspective on teaching,” she said. “It has been and continues to be challenging at best. When we walked out of our buildings on March 13th, I never imagined we would be where we are now. Through those months, I spent countless hours on my computer trying to maintain connections with my kids. I really missed them. I worried about them nonstop. I still do. I quickly learned that there was no replacement for teaching in person, at least for me. I missed the interaction with the kids and never felt like I was doing enough for them.”

As August draws near, educators across the country are reworking back to school plans to have in place when their districts need to return to school, but the big question still remains and that is will it be in person or from a distance?

“There are so many uncertainties as we move into the school year this fall,” Lacombe said. “We will all be learning together again. I can guarantee that I, like my colleagues, will do everything possible to make this upcoming year a success. Teaching continues to be a rewarding path for me. I am challenged and humbled every day. Kids are amazing, the energy they bring, the curiosity they have makes each day in the classroom adventurous.”

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