HDT - Teachers & Healers - February 18, 2023

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Teachers Healers and

Bad Axe kindergarten teacher showing students how to learn

Terri Maurer said a lot has changed since most of us were in kindergarten.

The Bad Axe Public Schools teacher pointed out there are no more half days or nap times, and kindergarten students aren’t always on the same level when it comes to being prepared to learn in 2023.

One thing hasn’t changed, though.

“There’s never a dull moment,” Maurer said. “Every day is a new day, and there are always surprises.”

That’s because children that age are bursting with energy, so

much so their school day features three recess periods. But kindergarten is not all about playtime, Maurer quickly pointed out.

“There’s a lot of sitting and learning and learning how to be students,” she said.

Maurer described a modern kindergarten as more like a first-grade class of yesteryear. It’s all about learning their letters and letter sounds as well as learning the basics of reading and writing so they have the academic skills they will need when they reach the first grade.

She added that flexibility is crucial as her students engage in lessons. Some students may be able to work

hard all morning long without a break, but with 5- or 6-year-olds, that doesn’t usually happen. That’s why it’s important to find a formula that works for her classes, Maurer said. Building a routine is key, and that routine typically includes lots of learning with recess and snack-time breaks thrown in for good measure.

“You get your work in, you take a break, then you do some more work and take a break,” she said. “You have to find a balance that works best.”

Maurer said at the beginning of the school year, she’ll work her students up to the level of

USA’s Darlene Rierson makes positive impact in the classroom

For 28 years, Darlene Rierson has been teaching various math subjects to students from Algebra II, to geometry, pre-calculus, statistics, SAT prep and calculus.

Fifteen of the 28 years were to students at Caro Schools. For the past 13 years, USA High School students have turned to her to teach them these subjects.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Rierson said. “There’s never been a moment that hit me. I played ‘school’ when I was little. I was the teacher when I played with my sister and cousin. When I went to Central Michigan University, I went to school to be a teacher. Then, I looked at what content I was good at. I didn’t go into a content, I went to be a teacher first.”

Rierson said the USA school district is a team of teachers, and there’s no one teacher who stands out from the rest.

“We work very well together, and we are a strong team,” she said. “We aren’t afraid to challenge each other. We try to think outside the box and support each other. So, the fact that I’m the one nominated, is that I’m simply the one nominated.

Truly, I believe we have a team of teachers that work together to create

a great system for our kids.”

“When you have a team you can trust, then you can do things that may be risky,” she added. “You know someone has your back. You can take a chance, and people will be willing to do something different, because people trust you. It’s a great environment to work in.”

A lesson that Rierson has learned from teaching is always to expect change. If you expect a lesson to go a certain way, it never will go exactly as planned.

“You have to be willing to change,” she said. “Students are still students. Kids are still kids. You’re there to work with them, and

that means you have to change sometimes.”

“Your students push you,” she added. “If they’re not understanding the lesson you put forward to them, they’ll push you to adapt. You have to try harder. I try to work as hard as my students. That has carried on to other things in my life. When they work hard, I try to work just as hard as them.”

When Rierson is teaching, she is not only teaching the content and lessons for the day.

“I’m teaching the students to be hard workers, and if you don’t get the result you wanted the first time, you have to work harder the

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Bad Axe kindergarten teacher Terri Maurer leads her students through a lesson at Bad Axe Elementary School on February 6. (Mark Birdsall / Huron Daily Tribune) ToM Greene stAff WritEr USA’s Darlene Rierson has made a positive impact on her students in the classroom.
see RIERSON page 3
(Courtesy Photo / USA Schools)

Dedicated to the emergency department for McLaren Thumb Region

Having worked in emergency medicine in the Upper Thumb area for 13 years, Dr. Michael Remley D.O. is serving patients through McLaren Thumb Region’s emergency department.

“I am the head of the emergency department at Mclaren Thumb Region and recently became the head of the McLaren Caro Region, so I will be the site director for both departments,” said Remley. “This (month) marks the start of my 13th year in McLaren Thumb. The group I work for has contracted there since 2002.”

The group he is referring to is the American Physician Partners, which started out contracting through what was Huron Medical Center before it became McLaren Thumb Region.


“I was on the board of directors and was a former chief of staff,” said Remley. “The hospital defiantly is something that I am dedicated to and I want to make sure that we are providing excellent emergency care out of the emergency department. By taking over the role of director (in both McLaren Thumb and Caro) It is a lot easier to make sure we are providing the quality of care that I want to provide to the community and my group wants to provide to the community.”

seeking emergency care at that time. It is that excitement that makes the job interesting.”

It is that change and being in a rural area that enticed Remley to live and work here. To him, that combination is the best way to get to know the community and the patients.

“Being in a rural area you have the challenges of being the only physician or only having a couple of recourses that you would have (more of ) in a major city,” said Remley. “You’ve got to think differently, you’ve got to act differently, and treat the patients a little differently. Not in the medical care you give them but in how you are monitoring and watching them because you have to transfer them an hour to an hour and a half away, especially during the COVID crisis.”

about the Thumb is that I learned that everyone (here) is related. Any patient I take care of, through some form of relation, whether it is to the fifth degree or 10th degree, is related to my coworkers and the people that I work with, so I know I am taking care of family members. In emergency medicine, you don’t have that follow-through that you have in other specialties where you see the patient come back to you.”

For Dr. Remley, McLaren Thumb and McLaren Caro are the locations to work and live for a lifetime. For him, it is about serving the community and loving where you work and live.

Before he and his wife lived and worked in the Thumb, Remley, who was born and raised in Pennsylvania, completed his education at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. After his time training in Pontiac, he settled in Vassar and has worked for McLaren Thumb Region (though at the time it was still Huron Medical Center) ever since. He said he has

Remley talked about that dedication and how he handles working in a hectic environment. The emergency department has 24-hour shifts that are run and the change of pace keeps him and the rest of the department on their toes. It is this change of pace style of work which Remley enjoys.


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That’s because her students start kindergarten at different levels of preparation, with some having attended pre-K or a learning center while others have spent time in a daycare setting with a little less structure and some have not spent a significant amount of time in a structured environment outside of the home.

“No matter whether they’ve been in a full-day


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second time,” she said. “You’ll fail, you’ll make mistakes. But, you have to pick yourself up and keep going.”

Rierson’s advice to her fellow teachers and students is that it’s truly

loved living in the area ever since.

“I am more of an outdoors person so I like the ruralness of it, I am not a ‘big city’ fan so I enjoy that,” said Remley. “I love the people that I work with and the people I serve, which is very helpful as well. It’s a unique experience working in a rural area instead of a big city or even in urban

program or a half-day program prior to coming into kindergarten, it’s always a huge adjustment for everyone, including me,” she said.

Maurer said she fully supports Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to make pre-K standard for all public school students in the state by the time she leaves office in January of 2027.

The Bad Axe teacher said she knows kids need a solid base when they start school, and she also understands that parents have countless financial and time demands placed

an educational system that makes and shapes the future.

“As a teacher, we help students realize their dreams,” she said. “We give them the foundation to go off and be whatever they want to be in their lives. If they

areas, which I (have worked in) both, so I have enjoyed being (in the Thumb) with everybody and working with the community and it has become a part of my home.”

Over the years Remley has transitioned into many different roles while with McLaren Thumb Region while being focused and working out of the emergency

upon them. Making pre-K standard for all kids would put students ahead of the game while making her job easier at the same time, she said.

Currently, spots in good programs can come at a premium, and parents who aren’t welloff yet earn too much to qualify for certain programs sometimes fall through the cracks.

“They’re sort of stuck in the middle,” she said.

Maurer, a Bad Axe High School graduate, attended Michigan State University and taught in Cass City for 13 years before “coming home” to Bad Axe.

can get a solid foundation, they can achieve anything they want.”

“We have a great school system, and I work with great people,” she added. “We have great students, and I’m very happy to be at USA Schools.”

“That is kind of the thrill and excitement of the emergency department, you never know what is going to come through the door,” said Remley. “You can have someone having a heart attack or someone having trouble breathing or you can have a toothache or sore throat, or you could have a bad car accident or, where we are at, a bad farming accident. You have anything and everything and there is no set schedule for it, some days you don’t have nearly as much, and some days you have people in the waiting rooms because there are so many people

Being in this small community, however, makes the personable connection for him easier to have with his patients. Despite some of the regional challenges (though easier to handle thanks to collaborations with other McLaren hospitals), the community is close enough to where he is able to work closer to his patients than if he were in a larger city.

“The biggest thrills are when you have a patient who is very sick and you are able to turn them around and get them stabilized, and then hear about their return to the community later on,” said Remley. “That is one of the unique things

“I love the outdoors and I love hunting and fishing and having the lake around is pleasant, (it is not the ocean like I am used to on the east coast but I enjoy that aspect),” said Remley. “Just knowing the community and knowing the other providers in the area makes it a lot more enjoyable to work together because we like to work together as a family. Like I said I know that a lot of times when I am working with a patient, it is a relative of someone in the hospital or they know them through marriage or other things, you feel a lot more involved in the care that you are giving to the people and it makes you want to give them the best care possible because you know it is going to people that you know and trust. “ work they will be doing in the middle of the year, starting off with smaller periods of learning and larger play times.

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Dr. Michael Remley D.O. has served the Upper Thumb for 13 years in the emergency department for McLaren Thumb Region and has now taken the role of head of the emergency department for both McLaren Thumba and MaLaren Caro. (Courtesy Photo / McLaren) doMinic sevilla stAff WritEr

Cass City’s Buxman shows how powerful education and teaching can change someone’s life

Jeremy Buxman has always had a drive and a passion for helping others and realized how the power of education and teaching can impact someone’s life. Buxman has been a high school history teacher at Cass City Schools for three and a half years. When he first graduated from Central Michigan University in 2009, he started his teaching career subbing in and around the Saginaw area for a few years. He then found himself teaching at two alternative second chance schools, Saginaw Learn To Earn Academy for three years and Dearborn/Detroit Technology Academy for one. Buxman made one more stop teaching at Bridgeport Public Schools before coming to the Cass City school district.

Buxman enjoys being a teacher. His passion for becoming a teacher comes from wanting to

help others and being someone that people can come to talk with about anything.

“I’ve always had a drive and a passion for helping others, especially people that might be at a disadvantage in life,” Buxman said. “While I was in high school I had a traumatic experience that my family went through and I had a few teachers reach out to me and offer guidance and advice. I knew then and there how powerful education and teaching can have on someone’s life. When I went to college there were two options I was looking at: becoming a teacher was number 1, and number 2 was going into law, specifically as a defense attorney for those that couldn’t afford representation. I still would like to pursue the law path further down the road in my career, but right now I could not be happier being in education.”

As a history teacher, Buxman realized that

students not only need to learn about the past events of this country, but also need to learn life-long lessons that they can apply to themselves every day. Buxman makes sure his classroom is a positive and bright environment, a class where students feel welcome and a place where their voices can be heard.

“What I enjoy most about being a teacher and role model for students is that I have an opportunity every day to teach them information that might help them later in life or give them advice they might be seeking about a career or job in the future,” he said.

“I have always told my students that the education and information they put in their brains will never be taken away from them. We have only a limited amount of time on this earth, so we might as well learn as much as possible while we are here. My goal for my students is always and will always be: When

you leave Mr. Buxman’s classroom, not only will you get an education, but you will leave a better person and a kinder per-

son as well.”

Cass City Principal Bill Hartzell said Buxman is a joy to have in the building and the kids love him.

“He goes above and beyond,” Hartzell said. “He’s interactive, energetic, engages with the kids, and builds relationships with them. He really shows initiative and is very student-centered.”

Buxman enjoys teaching all the different aspects of U.S. history, but says his favorite is teaching about World War II and the Great Depression, as it teaches the students how people come together when times are tough.

“One of my favorite parts of history to teach would probably be the Great Depression and World War II,” he said. “First the Great Depression showed how fragile the economy not only in the U.S. is, but also around the world. We came together as Americans during a very, very difficult time in the U.S. Some of the most important legislation came from that era, such as Social Security, FDIC

Laker life: Graduates marry, return to school as teachers

David and Kerri Snider always had a lot in common.

They both attended and graduated from Laker Schools, hanging out in the same friend group. They both attended Spring Arbor University. After college, they both worked at the same outdoor education camp, teaching kids about nature and things like leadership. Kerri had a background in science, and David discovered he loved working with kids and helping them grow, something he also got to do in his work as a youth minister.

They would eventually marry and both return to Huron County. Kerri found she had a love for education while working as a paraprofessional at a rural school, and David decided the best way he could make an impact working with children was as an educator.

So it should come as no surprise the couple would eventually return to Laker to serve as teachers, with Kerri teaching science at the high-school level and Da-

vid teaching sixth-grade reading and ninth-grade English classes. They have found a home at Laker and a place that will allow them to grow professionally and as individuals.

The couple recently sat down for an interview with the Tribune to talk about what it means to them to return to their former school and work

with kids who are just like they were when they were students.

Kerri said her favorite thing about teaching is sharing her love for science with her students.

“I really enjoy finding ways to teach students in a way that they can relate to and understand,” she said. “I think one of our goals is to help them know their worth and

The Huron Intermediate School District is a regional, educational agency that serves students, families, and communities in Huron County

Huron Learning Center

their abilities and to help them grow in that.”

David found that sports was one of the places he could be most effective in mentoring kids and helping them grow and mature. Originally, he started coaching football at Laker. Now he serves as the JV coach in addition to his main role as a teacher, and he finds his work very satisfying.

“What I really love about teaching — similar to what Kerri said — is the relational aspect of helping kids to understand not only (their lessons) but also hopefully just be good human beings and citizens of our community,” David said.

He added that his goals and Kerri’s goals are to give back to the community that gave so much

to them, asking themselves how they can help students to grow to be not just great in English or science but also how to be great adults, great co-workers, great bosses and great parents as they get older.

Like David, Kerri also works with students outside of the classroom in her role with the Science Olympiad. She helps coach the Division B team, made up of mostly middle school students, sharing her passion for science while showing kids just how much they, too, can achieve with hard work and perseverance.

The couple, who have young twin daughters, has some advice for parents who may be considering Laker Schools for their children. Sure, Laker has great facilities and athletic programs, but it’s the learning environment that sets Laker apart from the rest.

“I’ve noticed that so many of the teachers have embraced the idea that students don’t care what you know until they know that you care about them,” David said.

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Kerri and David Snider, both graduates of Laker High School, have returned
their former school
and give back to the community “that gave them so much”. (Mark Birdsall / Huron Daily Tribune)
stAff WritEr
BUXMAN page 5
Jeremy Buxman, a history high school teacher at Cass City, loves to bring positivity and fun to the classroom, while also teaching his students and making sure their voices are heard. (Shawn Robinson / Huron Daily Tribune)

Dedicated nurse fulfills her passion of making a difference

Mikaela Siemen has been a nurse for only a short time, and in her three years of working in healthcare, she has enjoyed helping others and making a difference in people’s lives.

Mikaela got started as a nurse after graduating from nursing school in 2019 and soon started her journey in the healthcare field. She started as a graduate nurse and shortly after was promoted to become a registered nurse at Hills and Dales Healthcare in Cass City. Siemen’s desire to become a nurse stems from not only having an interest in the human body but also wanting to have a meaningful career.

“I decided to pursue a career in healthcare because learning the biology of normal bodily processes and pathophysiology of disease was so interesting to me,” Siemen said. “More so, I wanted a meaningful career that would allow me to help others when they need it most. Nursing allows me to fulfill both of those desires.”

Siemen has worked at Hills and Dales for almost four years now. She enjoys helping and caring for others as well as becoming part of her patients’ stories. Something that she’s learned from working at the hospital is “trusting her gut,” and she’s stuck with

Europe and in Asia.”

that even when the times get tough.

“Every day brings something new to the table, so you never know what you’re walking into or how to prepare for the day,” she said. “You have to solely rely on your training and education at

the classroom.

involving banks, and work programs for young people. Also during this time came WWII, which showed us the Greatest Generation fighting the Axis powers and trying to make sure democracy would be saved over in

Buxman is also a big fan of basketball and loves to share his passion for the game with students. Buxman is an assistant coach for the girls’ basketball team at Cass City, where he still gives out life lessons as well as support outside of

“I have coached at different schools and levels of basketball for around 10 years now,” he said. “I first started off coaching at Hemlock with boys freshmen and then moved to JV. I also coached for one year at Bridgeport as an

times to keep people safe and act quickly to prevent patient deterioration.

Sometimes that means that you don’t allow your emotions to set in until after a patient is safe.

Relying on the support of your coworkers helps on the difficult days because they understand the stress that can accompany the job.”

Mikaela understands the hard work and difficulties that come with the job at certain times. Not even nine months after starting her career, Mikaela faced a new challenge, the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic caused lasting effects on the healthcare system that still affect us every day,” she said. “Some of the biggest lasting changes include lingering modified policies and procedures that lead to frustrated patients and family members and difficulties transferring patients to a higher level of care because of staffing shortages.”

Despite all of the hard days and frustrating times, Mikaela holds her head up high and gets reminded by patients why

assistant coach on the boys varsity basketball team. I pursued coaching because of the love of the game and the love of teaching and seeing the players get better. As a coach, you can always bring in life lessons to practice or the games.”

Buxman has learned a

she ultimately chose this profession.

“I find that when I feel most defeated or frustrated, I come across a patient that reminds me exactly why I chose to enter the profession,” Siemen said. “Sometimes it’s a patient’s sense of humor, their gratefulness, a family that makes you smile. Nurses don’t ask for a lot, so kindness and a simple “thank you” go a long way.”

Dawn Bolzman, BSN and RN at Hills and Dales talked about how hard of a worker Mikaela is and how much she does an excellent job taking care of patients.

“Mikaela is a hard worker. She is someone that cares about her patients and wants to make sure they are being cared for properly,” Bolzman said. “She does a great job being a patient advocate.”

“I enjoy having her on our team because she is someone that will come in and does an excellent job caring for our patients,” Bolzman said. “She is always willing to step in and help her co-workers out when she can. If someone has a patient that is starting to

lot throughout his teaching career, but the one thing that has stuck with him is how forgiveness can be a powerful tool not only in education, but also in our personal daily lives.

“Something that I have learned in the teaching world that I try to apply

crash, she is right there helping out. She is always a team player and makes sure she communicates effectively and appropriately with all staff members and patients. She will go above and beyond with making appointments or helping families that need help. Mikaela is an amazing RN, who strives to provide quality care to her patients.”

Siemen enjoys working at the hospital and truly embraces being a good nurse. She said that there’s so much more to being a nurse than some may realize, and she is happy with where she is in her career.

“Hills and Dales truly provide outstanding patient care and I’m very proud to be a part of that,” she said. “I work with the most caring people who all strive to give their all every day, which helps meet the various needs of patients. I enjoy becoming a part of my patient’s stories- you get to know your patients and it’s rewarding to watch their health improve and them get stronger and know you played a part in that recovery.”

to myself every day is that everyone in life might struggle at certain times and to always have a clean slate for those individuals the next day. Forgiveness can be a powerful tool not only in the education realm but also in our personal lives.”

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Sieman, a registered nurse at Hills and Dales in Cass City, loves her job and helping others is just one reason why she chose this profession. (Courtesy Photo / Hills and Dales Hospital)
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“She’s one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met,” agreed K-12 Principal Kevin Parker.

Ona Warchuck helping Caseville students move on into life

The staff at Caseville Public Schools put all of their efforts into helping their students grow into hard-working, responsible people who can make a difference in the world. According to Superintendent Ken Ewald, few do more to help the school be successful than Ona Warchuck, the student service coordinator.

“She’s one of the first people in the building, one of the last people to leave,” Ewald said.

“She’s one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met,” agreed K-12 Principal Kevin Parker.

Warchuck’s position makes her responsible for overseeing the special education department, where she started as the secondary special education teacher, as well as all district and state assessments. She also

covers anything to do with student schedules and graduation requirements. She’s also responsible for helping students with their post-secondary education plans, helping them get an idea of what they want to do after high school.

“There’s a lot of different hats, but at the same time those hats kind of weave together, making kind of a fun job,” she remarked.

Warchuck is passionately dedicated to Caseville after 13 years of service, though she doesn’t have much prior history with the district. She originally graduated from Bad Axe High School and wanted to stay in Huron County for work. However, she had trouble finding a position with her teaching degree for social studies since the market was over-saturated at the time, so she went into special education because there were

more openings for it and she had a passion for providing help for those kids who needed it. She taught at St. John Lutheran School in Port Hope for two years before starting at Caseville.

In the last few years, she slowly started transitioning from special education to student service coordinator, first working with post-secondary planning. She made the transition because it allowed her to work with a broader range of students and help them plan for their future. The 20222023 school year marks her second year as the student service coordinator.

“I couldn’t ask for a better place to work or for a better place for my son to attend school,” she said.

Throughout her career, she’s come to love Caseville and the community she’s part of and the district’s uniquely small size

has allowed her to know most of the students and staff more than she would have in a larger school.

“It’s definitely a small-knit, family-type atmosphere that I really enjoy,” she said.

And as part of that small-knit family, she gets to see the whole student body as they grow up. No matter where they start, whether they were there since kindergarten or transferred in their senior year, Warchuck gets to see their progress every step of the way in her position. It’s rewarding, she said, to see where they begin and then watch where they end up once they leave.

No day is ever the same, she remarked. Every student is different and as she works with them every day, she’s kept on her toes to help them move forward with their lives.

Deb Hunter: Everyone’s an educator

In the Harbor Beach Community Schools district office, leaders and administrators work hard to make sure that the schools are running the best that they can. As the top of the administration pyramid, they’re also the face of the district, and thankfully they have Deb Hunter to be part of that.

and when she had kids she knew she wanted them to go to Harbor Beach.

“So, when an opening opened up at the school, it seemed like destiny,” she recalled.

She joined the district in 2000 to be closer to her kids, who have now all graduated from Harbor Beach Schools.

even without being

“I can’t think of an individual I’ve met that is more kid-centered than her,” Bishop added.

Did you know?

Hunter works as the administrative assistant to the superintendent and school board. She primarily takes notes and sets up agendas for the board. She also handles critical finance work, helping to coordinate financial services with accounts payable and receivable for the school even though she’s not the chief financial officer.

Hunter has deep roots in Harbor Beach Schools. She graduated in 1988,

While Harbor Beach superintendent Shawn Bishop lauded her for her integral work at the district level, he particularly praised her attitude and interactions with office staff and visitors.

“She’s right up there with the top two or three people I’ve met in my educational career with positivity,” he said. “Honestly, I can’t remember a time when she didn’t have the right attitude and positive face for our district.”

Bishop and Hunter have a good relationship

with each other, which Bishop believes sets a good tone for the district. If the district office has a positive environment, he said, then the rest of the district will follow as students, staff, and parents interact with them.

Hunter is there for the people, especially the students; for her, it’s the best part of the job.

“I want (the students) to be treated like they were my own,” she said. “I want these kids to feel like somebody cares about them.”

As a parent, Hunter knows how much it means to her when someone helps and guides her child, making sure they’re prepared for life outside of school.

“It’s nice to be part of that,” she said. “It’s nice to be part of churning out good human beings.”

“I can’t think of an individual I’ve met that is more kid-centered than

High school students are undoubtedly familiar with the belief that extracurricular activities can help separate applicants when seeking admissions to competitive colleges and universities. But research has long indicated that extracurriculars are more than mere résumé-padding activities. A 2019 study published in The Excellence in Education Journal found that students who participated in extracurricular activities earned a significantly higher grade point average than those who did not engage in such activities. The value of that participation has been evident for decades, as the National Center for Education Statistics notes that a 1992 study found that more than 30 percent of students who participated in extracurricular activities had a GPA of 3.0 or higher, while just under 11 percent of non-participants performed that well academically. The potential impact that extracurriculars can have on students’ academic performance underscores just how valuable such activities can be and how much students should consider getting more involved at school as their academic careers unfold.

Teachers & Healers

I would like to thank the staff of Ascent High School. This staff takes on a difficult job of working in an alternative education setting and they shine on a daily basis. Each person here wears many hats throughout the day Whether it is teaching, ser ving, or just lending an ear to a student in need this staff rocks. I am lucky to work with each of you and most impor tantly our students are lucky to have each one of you. Thank you!

Jennifer Simon

Ms. Simon is in her 3rd year with the program. She does a great job running the online lab and helping organize bus rides for students. Her positive attitude goes a long way in building great relationships with the students and staff

Betty Durr

Mrs. Durr has returned for a second stint with the program as the school secretary She does a great job organizing breakfast and lunch orders and helping students with general issues throughout the day The building runs very smoothly with her here to help


Autumn Swartzendruber

Mrs. Swartzendruber is in her fifth year with the program. She allows students to show off their creative sides in both Art and Photography class. Her assignments are always unique and allow students to shine while earning some elective credits.

Renee Chumbler

Mrs. Chumbler has been a blessing for the school this year She has brought years of experience to the table and has done a great job teaching our English classes. She has been able to adapt to a brand new age bracket of student and has been instrumental in expanding the reading opportunities within our building

her,” Bishop added.

At Harbor Beach, Hunter said, there’s an understanding that everybody in the district is an educator, not just the teachers, and she takes that role seriously.

“I feel like we all exist for the common good of helping these kids out, educating these kids and making them the best human they can possibly be,” she said.

She has been part of the Harbor Beach staff long enough to see the fruits of her labor, as former students like Caitlyn Siemen and Chelsea Talaski come back to the district as teachers and counselors. She’s also watched her nieces and nephews go through school and graduate, letting her watch them grow into prepared adults.

“Not everyone is so blessed, so I very much appreciate that,” she said.

michigansthumb.com SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2023 6 Teachers and Healers
Warchuck does all she can to guide students into the future. (Courtesy Photo / Caseville Public Schools) Deb Hunter strives to be an educator, a teacher. (Courtesy Photo / Deb Hunter)
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Nurse practitioner is a Pigeon native looking to care for community

Sheena Damm has been serving the Pigeon community for the better part of the last decade and wants to continue serving medical care to the community she was born and raised in.

Damm currently serves as a family nurse practitioner for Scheurer Health in Pigeon in the pediatric department, but has worked in different departments and other health organizations in the past.

“I have been a pigeon native for 34 years, my entire life,” said Damm. “I went to undergraduate school at Saginaw Valley State University. After that, I worked at Scheurer Emergency for about three years, and from there I worked at Covenant ER for four and a half years. Working there is what prompted me to go back to school to get my FNP degree, so I did Olivet Nazarene (University) for two years to get my family nurse practitioner (degree) and I did my clinicals locally with the majority of them being at Scheurer hospitals with the physicians there. Then, after I got my degree in 2018, that is when I returned back to Scheurer hospital as a family nurse practitioner.”

While Damm was going to school and working out of Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw, she commut-

Sheena Damm is a family nurse practitioner for Scheurer Health and has been a Pigeon native all her life. She is looking to continue to serve the residents of her community. (Courtesy Photo / Scheurer Health) them), but I am defiantly an adrenaline junkie, so there are many aspects of the emergency department that I miss.”

ed from her home in the Thumb. She believes it is a great place to live and work, which is what committed her to come back to serve the community where she grew up.

As a nurse family nurse practitioner, her day is structured based on the patients that are scheduled to come in, unlike her time working in the ER.

“So my typical day

there is a roster of patients ranging from newborn to, I think the oldest is 101,” Damm said. “What I will do is a variety of well-child visits, physical exams, or treating acute visits such as illnesses, colds, and injuries. It ranges based on the schedule. I do love the predictability of the schedule. It fits my home life now that I am a mom and I can take off (for

Kids can set the pace for longterm health

Long-term health is not something that many young people routinely consider. After all, it’s easy to feel invincible during one’s childhood and adolescence. But the steps that young people take early on can affect their health as they get older.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, establishing healthy behaviors during

childhood and adolescence is more beneficial to longterm health than trying to change poor behaviors in adulthood. The following are some ways young people can set the course for healthy outcomes throughout life.

Prioritize healthy foods

According to the childhood recreation group

Mountain Kids, habits and actions performed subconsciously are hard to break because repeat habits trigger dopamine in the brain, causing pleasurable feelings that reinforce the behavior. So grabbing a slice of cake after school for a snack becomes rote. Instead, stocking the refrigerator and pantry with

see HEALTH page 8

Being well-versed in the community, Damm notes that working in the area means that she can work closely alongside her team as well as with the patients who come through the hospital.

“My highlight is definitely my positive work environment and my positive team,” said Damm. “Then, of course, there are the patients. Right now I am covering the pe-

diatrics department and getting to play with the kids every day is a huge highlight. I see pediatrics normally, but now that I am covering the pediatric department, I have way more quantity of pediatric patients.”

It isn’t all good teamwork and play with Damm however. She is committed to the well-being of her patients and wants to help them through their treatments, whether it be medical-related or mental health-related.

“(It is also about) help-

ing people get through certain things, whether it be health issues that they overcome such as their diabetes, high blood pressure, or their weight loss goals, or even overcoming their mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and grieving.

Just getting people to get through those things and celebrating the wins of overcoming those health disparities and low times in life. That is probably my highlight because you get the gratification that you have helped somebody.”

The team that Damm works alongside helps with this process. She said that it is a team effort that gets the patients the quality healthcare that they need.

“My team, they go in and room the patients and I love it when they come out and they say, ‘You fixed them,’” said Damm. “I love it when we can celebrate those wins when we can finally help someone through something. Normally they would be coming back every week or two for a re-check, and finally we have come to the end of the treatment because we have successfully treated something or successfully got them through something. It is definitely a whole team approach so we all celebrate and we congratulate each other.”

For Damm, working in her home and for her community brings her a sense of pride knowing that she is a trusted provider of healthcare to Pigeon and the Upper Thumb area.

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continued from page 7

sliced fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, lean protein like hummus and whole wheat dipping crackers can set the course for more responsible eating behaviors.

Eat meals and shop together

Kids can learn what healthy eating and portion control looks like if it is modeled by their parents. Children should be involved with reading nutrition labels and under-

Ubly’s Dekoski makes a difference in classroom and on the court

For over 15 years, Ubly’s Mark Dekoski has been teaching various subjects from science to physical education and health.

Dekoski also currently coaches seventh grade basketball for the Bearcats.

“I had been coaching eighth grade basketball for a dozen years, but a few years ago, stepped aside on that,” Dekoski said. “This year, I’m back in seventh grade coaching.”

“I do a lot of elementary physical education,” Dekoski added. “Also, I’m a certified middle school science teacher, and have been doing that the last few years.”

What had inspired Dekoski to pursue teaching was the positive high school experience he had. Dekoski is a graduate of Ubly High School.

standing the ingredients that comprise the foods they commonly eat. When dining out, choose restaurants that utilize menus that indicate the caloric content of meals. Children will learn to recognize and embrace nutritious foods and that can continue into adulthood.

Eating as a family also benefits mental health. Stanford Children’s Health says eating together as a family can encourage children’s confidence in themselves and improve

“I was motivated in sports, and that led me to physical education,” he said. “I wanted a chance to help other students have a similar good experience.”

Some things that Dekoski has learned from his teaching experience is that there are a variety of backgrounds that walk through his classroom door. Dekoski tries to treat everyone equally, no matter what background they come from.

“When they walk through the door, they’re on a level playing field,” he said. “I try to encourage them to have the school experience be something separate and positive. The kids are all here trying to do the same thing, and hopefully get the same good experience out of it.”

“That’s a challenge,” he added. “In education nowadays, we’re constantly facing obstacles to make it a good experience for all.”

communication. Children who regularly converse and interact with their parents may be less likely to engage in substance abuse or act out at school.

Increase physical activity

The CDC says 21 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 are obese, and two in five students have a chronic health condition. A sedentary lifestyle may be one contributor to these statistics. At home and in school, adults can encour-

As teachers encourage the students to make good choices, Dekoski noted the students also encourage teachers to make good choices.

“I’m always learning from the kids that there’s something they’re always into, and I try to change with the times to capture their attention,” he said. “At the same time, I’m a traditionalist, to a point where I try to hold them accountable. Hold them accountable to social standards, and to try to get them to make good life choices.”

Dekoski constantly preaches constant improvement from his students, no matter what skill level they’re at. He hopes that inspires the students to improve daily.

“We can always work to get better, in the phys-ed sense,” he said. “There are a wide range of abilities that walk through the gym door, and every day, you can push yourself to be better. Sometimes,

age physical activity as an effective means to prevent obesity. The Department of Health and Human Service recommends that children and adolescents age six and older get at least one hour a day of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or biking. Muscle- and bone-strengthening activities also are recommended.

Kids who learn early on to appreciate physical activity reap long-term benefits that extend well into adulthood.

that’s motivating the kid that’s already good. What more can you learn? What new trick could you challenge yourself to learn? If you’re a beginner, you can make improvements as well.”

Dekoski’s advice to teachers and students is that there is definitely value in helping and encouraging today’s youth, but it’s not easy.

“I’m a father of four,” he said. “I wholly understand what the challenges of growing up in today’s world are. It’s not easy, but you have to maneuver it the best you can. We want to steer the ship for the kids, and guide them in the right way for the long run. That’s a valuable thing.”

“I try to do the right things, keep my nose clean, and help the kids make good choices along the way.,” he said. “Keep your nose down and try to do the right thing, and some people notice. That’s good.”

Avoid tobacco Tobacco and nicotine vaping products can contribute to many negative health conditions. Youngsters who avoid these products throughout their lives may improve longevity and reduce their risk for various illnesses.

Children who learn healthy behaviors at a young age are more likely to continue those good habits into adulthood, which ultimately benefits their long-term health.

michigansthumb.com SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2023 8 Teachers and Healers
Ubly’s Mark Dekoski makes a difference not only in the classroom, but on the basketball court. (Courtesy Photo / Ubly Schools)
“I was motivated in sports, and that led me to physical education,” he said. “I wanted a chance to help other students have a similar good experience.”