Shayne Reckling credits his parents for his decision to pursue a career in teaching. “My mother and my father were the two greatest teachers that I’ll ever know,” he says. “They influenced me to be the kind of listener and teacher that I am today.”
As a seventh and eighth grade English teacher at Bemis Junior High School – which is part of Utica Community Schools – where he has worked for 19 years, Reckling spends his days inspiring students to be unique thinkers who have a greater sense of confidence by the time they leave his classroom.
His positive work with students has led him to be one of three recipients of the Macomb County Teacher of the Year Award in 2019, which is an annual honor – now in its 33rd year – that recognizes teachers for their excellence. (Read about fellow winners Lisa Denomme and Linda Smith, too).
“I’m not the first one from Bemis to win the award,” Reckling says. “It’s just my turn, and I’m fortunate to be the name representing our school this time.”
During his time with the district, Reckling says that the teaching profession has transformed – and, as a result, teachers have had to transform.
“State assessments and initiatives can seem like moving targets. But even beyond those, our kids are constantly changing, too. And, as teachers, we have to be able to adapt,” he says. “We’re pursuing the greatest level of success for the greatest number of kids, and that formula is not static.”
And because each child is different and brings his or her own unique story and skills to the classroom, teaching has become more individualized. It can be tough on educators, but Reckling works to figure out what motivates each student.
He gets creative with his teaching, too. Each year in Reckling’s class, students hold a funeral service for the words “nice” “kind” and “caring” to encourage students to stretch their vocabulary beyond these commonly used terms.
When it comes to rewarding moments, Reckling says there are more than one.
“I’m not sure one thing sticks out for me, because each day presents so many individual rewards. We make hundreds of decisions each day. That’s why this job is great,” he says.
“The ones we make that are right, and that’s certainly not all of them, but the ones we make that help kids – those are the most rewarding moments.”