English teacher Steve Schick says farewell to Mililani High School as he retires on December 18, 2020. Schick has taught for 35 years, 16 of which he spent at MHS. As the end of the second quarter nears, Schick is beginning to say goodbye to his students and MHS.
“The best lesson I ever got was from a former colleague and department head: ‘You don’t teach English—You teach kids.’ That piece of advice taught me to always try to remember that every student is an individual worthy of attention and respect,” said Schick.
The current class Schick teaches, which he also claims as his favorite, is English 9 Enriched. His students, whom he has named “Squeakers” because of how high-pitched their voices were compared to the seniors he previously taught, are the reason Schick enjoys this class as he describes them as enthusiastic and fun to work with. One of Schick’s fondest memories from his time teaching is a project he assigns to his Squeakers every year: The Great Debate.
“It’s my time of the year when I’m most proud of them,” said Schick. “Also, Squeakers from years past always come back to judge the debate. It’s like a reunion. There would even be some who came to judge who were in college at the time.”
Teaching his Squeakers has been the self-claimed joy of Schick’s career. This school year, however, teachers have not been able to have the same interactions with their students. COVID-19 has made teaching look very different from previous years with the introduction of distance learning. The announcement of MHS switching to a virtual model forced many teachers, including Schick, to change and adapt how they teach. The decision to retire was accelerated by COVID-19 which, along with his increasing age, made Schick finally decide that it was time to depart.
“Distance learning and project-based learning are tough to blend. The main negative is not being able to build a community within the class like when things are normal. It’s still good and I still love my kids but it’s not the same,” said Schick.
Schick has been able to see MHS evolve within the past 16 years that he has been teaching here. He said that the biggest difference he noticed is the way the faculty has been able to become more attuned to designing curriculum and assessments with more focus and effectiveness to allow students to succeed.
“It’s been my greatest joy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reflected on how blessed I am to have had a career that I’ve genuinely loved everyday. (Well, almost everyday!) To be of service of others in the key to happiness,” said Schick.
Schick is grateful to have been able to work with students and be able to do a job that he loves. He said that teaching his Squeakers is what he is going to miss most about MHS.
“I love all you guys (his students), and all of you are capable of achieving greatness.”
As his retirement approaches, Schick looks forward to caring for his house, hopefully playing golf, and going to the beach more often. After he retires, Schick and his wife will await for life to go back to normal so they can travel as much as they can.