Name: Mike Olson

Hometown: Kingsford, Mich.

Title: Fourth-grade teacher

Business: Breiting Township Schools

When Mike was in high school, he job shadowed a fourth-grade teacher named Mark Novara.

Thanks in large part to Mark’s glowing praise for his alma mater, Lakeland, Mike applied, was accepted and exceled. But it gets better. After graduating in 2011 with a degree in early education, Mike secured a job teaching fourth grade in his hometown, Kingsford. The classroom he inherited was the same one he had job shadowed in more than five years earlier.

“Teaching youngsters in my hometown is a dream come true,” says Mike.

“I absolutely love it,” he says. “I love waking up and going to work every morning. Fourth grade is such a good age to work with. They still want to listen and come to school. One really rewarding aspect of my job is noticing you’re having a positive impact. Some kids have it rougher than others, so it’s nice that when they come to school, they know someone here cares about them.”

In addition to teaching, Mike serves as an assistant coach on the high school’s freshman football team and helps coach in the middle school boys’ basketball program.

At Lakeland, Mike student taught at Kohler Elementary School and Horace Mann Middle School in Sheboygan. Both experiences, he says, prepared him for becoming a fulltime teacher, and he’ll always appreciate the fact that Lakeland – unlike many schools – sets up student teaching assignments.

Reflecting upon his time at Lakeland, Mike has fond memories of a “caring community.”

“When I took my tour, I could tell the people there genuinely cared,” he says. “It’s a family, a place where you make connections for life. And the education program is top-notch, fantastic.

“Without Lakeland, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.”