ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – With a knack for helping kids succeed, Marie Young’s journey into education is a little different than some teachers.

“I did a lot of different jobs before I got into education, including two years of college, but it was coaching high school kids for like 10 years,” said Marie Young 7th and 8th grade science teacher, Escanaba Jr. High School. “It was that feeling that was more my purpose was to help young kids, young students to sort of advance in whatever it is they desire. So I decided to go back to school and I was in my thirties. So it was a late start at teaching, but it was the right move for me.” 

“Actually, kind of an ironic story,” said Darci Stenfors, Principal, Escanaba Jr. and Sr. High School. “Marie Young and I both began our careers together as second career options. We both entered into the education workforce late. Ended up finding each other in a class in art history at Northern Michigan University pursing our Elementary Education degrees at that time and both came out into the workforce together. At that time, teachers were being hired in large batches. So for instance, the year that she was hired there was a large batch of almost 14 individuals being hired in the Escanaba district and so she was part of that.”

It’s been a job that’s always changing and keeping Marie on her toes.

“I think the favorite thing is how every day is different,” said Young. “Every year is so different. Every hour is so different. Every student. My favorite thing is the students. It’s junior high I love. This grade can be so unpredictable, yet darling. They are unexplainably complicated, but yet at the same time I kind of find that because their stories are so different, because they have such different needs that it’s a challenge, but it’s also rewarding. So I would just say that my students have always been what drives me and what has made me just love the job.”

That love for her students goes both ways.

“She’s nice and sweet and pretty,” said student, Harlee. “She’s caring. She’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.”

“She’s super nice and I’m pretty sure she likes to make us happy,” said student, Everleigh. “That’s why she does all of these things like experiments and all of the other things she does.”

“I’ve known her for a long time now,” said student Camree. “Over the years I’ve learned that she is one of the most compassionate, caring, understanding teachers that I’ve ever met. She listens to every problem. She’ll sit with you and talk to you about anything whenever you need it. She’s one of the teachers you can always go to.”

Young’s involvement as a teacher goes way beyond the classroom.

“Marie Young has been in the district for many, many years,” said Jessica Garber, Assistant Principal, Escanaba Jr. High School. “For our school that means we are going to lose an awesome leader. She loves putting together things for our students, whether they’re field trips or activities here at school. She loves working with robotics teams. She has always been involved with student council. We’re losing an integral part of that leadership in our building right now. She has always been willing to take that extra step forward to help students and to plan things. She’s just a great coworker.”

As Marie retires, she says her involvement won’t fully retire, but she’s ready for this next phase in life.

“I’m going to miss the camaraderie with the staff,” said Young. “My co-teachers, these teachers I’ve been teaching for years with, they’ve just been a great group. I have always had the best administrators so I’m going to miss that. I think I’m going to miss that part of it, so I’m not quite sure how I’m going to feel when it’s all said and done and I’m not coming here anymore. It will feel a little bit different, but I am looking forward to it and spending more time with my family and just kind of digging in to some new hobbies.”

Young leaving, leaves a hole in the school community, but grateful for her time as an educator.

“Maire has been influential in what she’s done here with the kids over the years. Every year the batch of students that leaves her has made deep connections with her to the point where each year I have students that come back wanting to see her again and talk with her. She’s just that type of educator. So, the hole that’s left by somebody like that is felt for a long time. She’ll be the type of community member where she will go out and people will see her be like, ‘Mrs. Young, do you remember me?’ She just has that effect on people. The relationships she builds with our students is something that is hard to replace, but our hope is, is that the new teachers coming out in the education world are going to be able to fill those big shoes.”