Educator Spotlight: MCE’s Tracy Schwass. 

April 24, 2022

Educator Spotlight: MCE’s Tracy Schwass. 

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.

Educator Spotlight is a presentation of is a presentation of Smith & Eddy Insurance, with offices in Scottville and Manistee, offering discounts for MEA members and school employees.

CUSTER – Only having taught for four years, one might think Mason County Eastern teacher Tracy Schwass still has much to learn. But, entering the educational world right before the COVID-19 pandemic, she has done a lot more in her four years than most do at the beginning of their teaching careers.

“I worked at Baldwin in first grade during my first year, Schwass said. “This is my third year at MCE. I have taught first grade for two of those years. I served as the elementary remote teacher last year covering kindergarten through fifth grade.”

Schwass is a 1999 graduate of Mason County Central Schools and then attended Central Michigan University, graduating in 2004, but she didn’t receive her degree in education.

“I began volunteering in my youngest nephew’s third grade classroom 10 years ago,” she said. “During that first year, his teacher asked me if I had ever thought of teaching. My initial response was not really. I had graduated from CMU and had several friends who were in the education program. As a college student it just didn’t seem like something I could see myself doing. Her planting that bug in my ear and my experiences in volunteering in a couple of different classrooms and grade levels led me to go back to school to receive my post baccalaureate in elementary education.”

Working in the first grade has opened Schwass’ eyes to a lot of things that she holds near and dear. At the first grade level, she said, her students get to experience many things for the first time and she really enjoys cheering them on as young learners.

“My favorite things about working in education are working with our students and celebrating successes and hard work with them, when my students grasp a concept, especially in first grade witnessing them become better readers and how much it builds their confidence,” she said. “Another of my favorite things about working in education is our wonderful staff and administration. I love working at MCE because of the feeling of community and family that we have.”

Like herself, Schwass encourages anyone who might have a passion for working with children to look at going to college to become an educator, even if you are older or have a different background after graduating high school.

“Spend as much time in the school setting as you can whether that be by volunteering, substitute teaching or working as a paraprofessional,” Schwass stated. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for advice or ask for help.”

Starting her career basically right before a global pandemic, that shutdown schools across the world, Schwass stated that at times, teaching was a challenge, not because she was a newer teacher, but also she needed to learn the technology and how to go about teaching six grade levels efficiently online.

“Being open during COVID was challenging both in person and for those learning remotely, but both our students and staff were resilient,” she said. “Serving as the remote K-5 teacher last year was definitely a challenge to my knowledge of technology. Thanks to the help of wonderful tech staff I was able to both serve as their teacher and tech support.”

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