Collene McCormick uses unique methods to teach middle-schoolers

Editor's note: Each month a teacher and a parent of Baldwin Secondary School will be selected for an article to highlight their work and contributions to education.

BALDWIN — Administration and middle-schoolers alike, at Baldwin Community Schools are impressed with the teaching methods and results of the newest teacher at the school, Collene McCormick.

"She is our newest teacher, and has different methods of working with the kids," said Baldwin Community Schools Secondary Principal Calvin Patillo. "For one, she came highly recommended when we were going through the hiring process. She had lots of experience. She makes a great addition to the middle school staff and the kids really like her. She is great at working one-on-one with the kids."

McCormick said she really does tap in to the one-on-one approach in her eighth-grade English language and U.S. history classes.

"I like to get to know each kid individually and how they learn best, what they like to do and I try to find a balance so at least once a week they can work on something in a way they are good at. Why have an ordinary day when you can have an extraordinary one? I want each student to feel successful and the kids seem to respond well," she said.

She assigned her English language classes a poetry project before Christmas break.

"Each student took a different spin on the project, and then each kid presented. They did awesome and it was a nice way to end the semester," she said. "The class is a two-hour block. The students do their own silent reading on novels of their choice for the first hour and then we work on writing, such as poetry, creative writing, fictional stories and a personal narrative — this is where I really get to see who the students are. They share more in writing than in class discussion."

Students in her class learn U.S. history beginning with the Revolutionary War though westward expansion. She said there is a lot of drilling with facts and vocabulary, but the kids also enjoy the student work-stations which give hands-on and visual learning of history.

McCormick grew up in the Detroit area and graduated from Madonna University with degrees in history, English and education. She began her teaching career in Florida, where she spent two years at a high school in a very rural section of the state with a lot of "cows and orange trees," she said.

For five years before teaching at Baldwin she taught middle school and high school students at Journey, an alternative school in Scottville which was replaced by Gateway to Success, after closing.

"I love it here at Baldwin," she said. "This is my first time with all middle school students."

She said her time outside of the classroom is spent tending to her own four children. She also enjoys going to the beach and hiking and does a lot of reading.