Most students would agree that making connections with their teachers helps them to stay more engaged, become more confident in their work, and allows them a higher likelihood of success. Learning Support Teacher, Mr. Mike Kass, is one AHCCS teacher who has shown his students that he is just as interested in making this connection with them. He has had quite the impact on his students and their families over the course of his 5 years with AHCCS, taking more and more students under his wing with each new school year.
"Ten stars is not enough to give to an outstanding educator, supporter and mentor to our students," says Special Education LEA Dr. Jeanmarie Mason. “I truly admire Mr. Kass for his devotion to our students and parents, they greatly appreciate his kindness and persistence. Mr. Kass has made the impossible possible for our students."
Dr. Mason is not the only administrator who speaks highly of Mr. Kass. Special Education Supervisor, Ms. Lisa Russo, echoes Dr. Mason’s sentiments by sharing what a positive light Mr. Kass has been in the Special Education Department.
"Mike is a teacher who truly cares not only about his students doing well academically but also making sure the students are in a positive frame of mind in order for academic achievement to take place."
Mr. Kass was always interested in being a teacher. He originally wanted to teach social studies but went back to graduate school to earn his master’s in special education. He is so happy he made the switch, explaining his favorite part of his job is the connection he has with students and families. As a case manager, Mr. Kass gets to work with the same students for multiple years in a row, further deepening the relationships he gets to form.
“All of the students I have worked with have a unique reason that brings them here,” Mr. Kass says. “Many have gone through, and are still going through, things in their life which I do not know if I could have handled as a teenager. I am proud that as part of this school, I can help a student overcome barriers in their life to find success in school.”
Mr. Kass has the privilege of going through the highs within our families’ lives, but also welcomes the lows with open arms and understanding. He says that despite the distance, he feels like he can develop a close connection and tries his best to find unique ways to do so.
“I just try to be authentic,” Mr. Kass says. "I am honest, direct, and I try my best to follow through with what I promise. I am empathetic to what students are going through.”
Mr. Kass is always trying to put his students in positions to succeed. Since he has seen firsthand how bright, talented and charismatic our students can be, he is confident that everyone who comes through AHCCS has the ability to thrive.
“Students tend to be their own greatest critics as they often doubt their abilities,” Mr. Kass says. “Ultimately, I tell students that their success comes down to how much they want it, and I am here to help them in any way I can.”
All AHCCS staff would agree with Dr. Mason and Ms. Russo that Mr. Kass is a teacher that any parent would want for their son and daughter. When speaking with a parent of an 11th grader, this proved to be true.
“Mr. Kass is amazing, he’s my godsend,” says Maria Schreiber. “My son never had a male to look up to in his life, and Mr. Kass has filled that role. He and everyone else at AHCCS has gone above and beyond for my son.”
Mr. Kass gives all his students and their families equal opportunities to be educated, seek assistance, and succeed. He is a teacher that reminds us why it is so important to remain a presence in students’ lives and give their families the opportunity to be just as engaged. When asked what advice he would give other individuals in this profession, Mr. Kass had some inspiring words.
“Be yourself. You are in this field because you naturally care for others and want them to succeed,” he says. “Allow the best of who you are to guide you. I also recommend all teachers remain grounded; never get too high, never get too low. There is always tomorrow, and tomorrow has so many opportunities to be wonderful.”
Thank you, Mr. Kass, for all the lives you have touched. We have no doubt that you will continue to leave a positive mark on everyone you interact with!