MARQUETTE - After 35 years as a teacher, former Marquette Area Public Schools English teacher Karen Angeli has seen it all.
Over the years, she's watched the classroom evolve from chalkboards to whiteboards, overhead projectors to tablet computers.
She's also watched students change over those three decades.
Retired Marquette Area Public Schools teacher Karen Angeli talks to Michigan State University graduate student Jackie Saunders via Face Time Tuesday in Marquette. Angeli has been working with Saunders since March to write essays for Saunders’ pharmaceutical doctorate program applications. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
When she was first starting out, kids automatically respected teachers and recognized their classroom authority, Angeli said, no question about it.
But these days, students are looking for more of a two-way street.
"It's no longer that the kid will sit in front of you and they're going to automatically want to learn," Angeli said. "You have to have that personal connection today and if they know that you care about them, they see you at their activities, their events, you're talking to them about things that go on in their lives, then you can get to the subject matter - and that's what I love."
The impact she could make on young lives as a teacher is what kept Angeli coming back day after day.
"It's not always what you can see right in front of you that day," Angeli said. "It's that student that you see on the street that you had 10, 20, 30 years ago, that said 'I always meant to email you...'
"It's not always immediate, right in front of you, that you can see. It's the after-effects."
With a heavy emphasis on writing, Angeli said she made it a point to help her students in a practical way, especially when teaching the older students.
Every year, the first few weeks of school in Angeli's junior and senior English classes were spent writing college entrance exam essays or essays for standardized tests, the scores of which are used in college applications.
Angeli said that kind of writing helped students learn how to put their personality on the page.
"It's the only component in the application process that gets your personality conveyed to that college, as well as your writing ability, skills, can you stick to a topic," Angeli said. "It says something a little more personal about you."
That aspect of her teaching career, however, didn't leave when she tendered her resignation last year.
Angeli has translated her teaching career into a more one-on-one type of teaching by starting a business in which she tutors students - at all levels in high school or college - to write better essays.
And with advances in technology that are now part of everyday life - Facetime for Apple users and Skype for the rest being chief among them - Angeli can tutor students anywhere, anytime.
"I haven't met any student that doesn't have Skype or doesn't have an iPhone or an iPad or some Apple device that we could do Facetime," Angeli said. "So, that's what made it easy to work with kids in Chicago, in Milwaukee, Big Rapids..."
Enlisting the help of Marquette design firm Elegant Seagulls, Angeli started www.anycollegeessay.com, an easy-to-navigate website that allows people to sign up for her services.
"I would always tell my students the very first day, 'I'm not here just to teach you English," Angeli said. "What I love teaching is getting to know the students and making sure the student knows you care about them and if you can do that you can teach anything.
"That's the great thing about why I love doing anycollegeessay. it still gives me that personal connection with kids."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.