by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Mike Kosiara is driven to teach and bring out the best in Rogers City Area School students. It’s what brings him to work every day.
Kosiara is the Rogers City teacher of the year for the school year, 2017-18 and will be in the running for state teacher of the year.
“Michael exemplifies the role of a dedicated educator, driven by excellence both in and out of the classroom,” said guidance counselor Marilyn Dimick, who nominated Kosiara for the annual award, Oct. 6.
Kosiara started teaching in Rogers City following the first marking period of the 1992-93 school year. The eighth-grade class was large that school year and he was brought in to alleviate the numbers and given the class, “self contained.”
There was a glut of teachers in the state at the time, so any job was a good job.
Since getting his foot in the door here, he has taught every subject in the district. “Everything from science to English,” said Mike. “Math, phys ed, elementary phys ed.”
“Tough on the onset, but…compassionate and caring,” said Dimick on her nominating form.
The secondary English/language arts teacher, who also helps the students produce the yearbook, sets high standards.
As a former social studies student, current high school principal Nick Hein knows full well that Kosiara brings structure to the classroom, which he believes is vital.
“If you were to see what his lesson plans look like,” said Hein, “he has the times from start to finish.”
The results speak for themselves.
“If you look at our English scores at the high school level, which he teaches, they are the highest around,” said Hein.
Additionally, Kosiara has had several students return to him after graduating from high school and personally thank him for his dedication to them individually and for his tenacity in teaching the skills needed for English/language arts.
Kosiara knows the value of education, because that’s what he learned from his parents at an early age.
George and Naomi Kosiara grew up during the depression and did not graduate from high school.
“Both of my parents felt cheated, because they never had a chance to get an education, so they really pushed us,” said Mike. “My dad always worked at least two jobs. He worked at a slaughterhouse year-around.
“In the winter, he plowed snow. Spring, fall, summer, we farmed and cut wood for people. We never knew we were poor, because we always had plenty of food and a roof over our heads.”
Mike received his first calf at 10, and when the animal was sold, the money went into the bank and was used so Mike could purchase more to raise. He started working in the slaughterhouse with his father at 16.
“My work ethic came from my parents,” he said. “My mom sold eggs and took care of the chickens.”
George and Naomi wanted their boys to get an education. “Essentially, what we were told was, ‘you have to do whatever it takes to get an education. Nobody is going to give it to you.’
“You have to take pride in your work. I have told the kids that my dad gave me the job of cleaning the pigpen and he was not satisfied with the job that I did. So, he gave me a spoon and told me to finish the job.”
This is the lesson Mike brings from Otesgo County’s Livingston Township, where he grew up, to Rogers City. “No matter what job you do, I don’t care if it is cleaning out the pigpen, or if you are a brain surgeon; you always take the time to do the job right, and you take pride in your work.”
Mike finished in the top 10 in his senior class at Gaylord St. Mary High School and went on to Albion, an expensive private college between Jackson and Battle Creek.
He worked during the summer and the school year at the nature center. During his freshman year, his boss had to tell him to stop working so many hours “ ‘because your grades are the most important thing.’ Not only that, but we don’t have enough money in the budget to pay for all the hours you are putting in. It all goes back to my parents.”
Mike coached junior varsity and varsity football in Rogers City for 18 years and worked with student/athletes in the weight room.
“I did not get here without the grace of God and having good family, friends, mentors and teachers,” said Kosiara. “When you look around, it’s the students (and) there are enough people around here who value an education, that make it worthwhile.”
Mike will succeed 2016-17 teacher of the year, Sherry Bisson.