Dear fellow colleagues, family members, and friends,
As some of you may or may not already know, I am writing to inform you that after 16 long years with the Niles Community Schools, I have officially retired from teaching in the State of Michigan. I wanted to wait until I felt it was the right time to let everyone know that I care about and have had wonderful relationships with over the past decade and a half plus. It has been a quite a ride since 1997 here in Niles, Michigan and I thought it would be best to share with you some of my thoughts as I move forward on to bigger and better things with my life.
As you are all well aware, the state of education is not anywhere near what it used to be when a lot of us were hired in back in the 1990’s. Between economic struggles, federal guidelines, and unions taking a hit, I personally feel that the stresses of dealing with today’s students and the employer hoops we have to jump through daily are not worth the migraine headaches and stress related illnesses that plague many of us in the workforce in our school buildings.
Though we had many successes in the late 1990’s and well into the 2000’s that we can put feathers in our cap over, in the end the situations of daily uncertainty and negative work morale grew to be too much. Bottom line: it’s just not worth sacrificing one’s health, happiness, and prosperity over as it often leads to the breakdown in relationships with even loved (as I can personally attest to over the years), and more importantly one’s sanity.
There are a lot of people I would like to thank over the many years of service in the community. First of all, I want to thank all my fellow teachers, coaches, secretaries, and custodians who I had the opportunity to work with over the many years here in Niles. Over that time we say that we are there for the kids, and in the past we have been fortunate enough to have a lot of great ones pass through. However, in the end as the good ones move on with their lives, we are left with each other to lean on for support. I enjoyed creating opportunities for our youth, and there couldn’t have been a better staff with which to work with than those employed by the Niles Community Schools. In the end, I was only as successful as the people who surrounded me and the people around me made me good.
I also want thank the school district for allowing me the opportunity to create programs and to build facilities during my tenure in the school system. I have no doubts or questions in my mind (having been stated in evaluations) that I was a valuable asset to the secondary buildings in which I worked from 1997 until 2013. I was fortunate to enjoy a lot of the successes during the good times in the schools. Let me be judicious, however, in stating that no matter how much hard work we put into the things we do philosophical changes over time dictate future statuses despite the great accomplishments and achieved successes we may have had throughout our careers. Moral of the story: as a fellow P.E. teacher once told me, “As long as you are of use to an employer without being a threat to them, then longevity can be sustained.” Yet, as a great former A.D. of mine once said, “True innovators never stay the same. They will ultimately evolve and change.” In some cases it’s by choice and in other cases the decision is made for you. Either way, the Lord above ultimately has a plan for our lives and the paths for which they take.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to move on now to be the Territory Sales Manager for Model Coverall Services. I am fortunate once again to not only have the chance to take over a successful program that is already in place, but the opportunity to build and create a whole new program with which to continue the successful business in the Michiana area. Obviously, my skill set lends very well to this industry and thus I can continue in a field for which I have the passion to help others. As a manager, the biggest thing I promise to do is to properly lead my fellow assistants and employees to be successful on a daily basis. The problem in our local educational system is, as a fellow custodial engineer once put it, “There are three forms of administrative management we have here: micromanagement, bad management, and no management.” Be rest assured that I will lead with good management.
In addition to my new career in South Bend, Indiana, I am still the Fitness Training Director at the Lakeland Athletic Club here in Niles, Michigan where I still reside. In addition, I am still heavily involved with my childrens’ sporting activities. Being that they reside and attend the schools in South Bend, they will be involved with the Michiana YMCA while still taking classes at Hong’s USA in Niles. Despite all the changes I went through these past couple of months, it was great to know that I had the support of not only my family, but my friends. With all the reference and background checks businesses do, there is one person (a former ISR supervisor and former football coach at Niles H.S.) who went out of his way to reach out to a couple of companies with whom he had some contacts with to offer professional recommendations. Networking with who you know is the most powerful tool there is, well beyond what you may know or even what you may have done or accomplished throughout a lifetime or a career.
Here is my final piece of advice to those teachers out there who are struggling with all the changes that are occurring daily as we speak. People say that the unions do not help us anymore in terms of longevity protection. While it is true that the state has taken away some of those rights (as many others have done the same), being a member of the union does help you when it is time to move forward. Trust me, I can personally tell you this. In the end, you have to do what is best for you and your family. If you can survive in the existing climate that is our schools today, I wish you the best of luck. If you cannot live with the circumstances of the situation presented to you, then utilize the resources you have around you so that you may move on. Those are the words of wisdom I can give you.
Sincerely, Michael D. Michelakis,
former teacher and present manager,
personal trainer and sports father.