IRON RIVER, Mich. (WJMN) – As you enter West Iron County Schools, students, faculty and staff beam with Wykon pride. One of those people is Lee Rometti.

“I went to school for business,” said Lee Rometti, business and technology teacher, West Iron County High School. “My goal was to be a resort manager. So, I did an internship at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City. They had me rotate between different departments and one of them was setting up programs for the kids of the people who were there on vacation. When I did that, I really enjoyed working with the teens. I wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to do. I went back school. I went to Lake Superior State University and I was working on my marketing degree and then the next summer my sister convinced me to work at the youth camp in town here, Camp Batawagama and I loved it. I just fell in love working with that age group. I took what I already went to school for, business and wanted to teach it so I went to Northern [Michigan University] and got my teaching certificate.”

Born and raised in Iron River and graduating from West Iron County Schools, Rometti never thought his career would bring him back home.

“I was living in Green Bay,” said Rometti. “They called up and said there was an opening here so I could move back and I applied for the job and got it.”

Just finishing his 31st year of teaching, Rometti says it’s a job that’s evolved throughout that time where he’s also learned along the way.

“When I was hired, I taught typing probably five hours a day on typewriters and it was so boring,” said Rometti. “I had to learn some other skills that I could teach. When I went to college, the only computer class that I had was a programming class and I really didn’t care for that, but I knew I needed to teach kids skills so I talked the principal into getting a couple of computers. I spent a lot of time in the summer learning a lot of Word skills. Actually it was Word Perfect back then. So Word Processing and then that evolved eventually into graphic design. That’s what I like to teach. So I went from teaching typewriting, I was teaching some Office classes, I got the school to open up a marketing class. I taught that. Started a school store. I started with Desktop Publishing and graphic design. Through a grant I learned how to edit digital video and that whole thing and then website design came along and the school yearbook. So, that’s what I do now . I went from typing to all this stuff.

With his relaxed style of teaching, he’s helping his high school students learn these tools as they go out into the world

“Mr. Rometti is a very fair teacher,” said Bryce Zupancic, senior, West Iron County High School. “I find that he’s lenient and he’s more respectful towards us students. It doesn’t seem like he’s in charge of us kind of thing like it is with some teachers and so I appreciate that about him.”

“Mr. Rometti is just and awesome teacher,” Abram VanLanen, senior, West Iron County High School. “He really supports students creativity and explore past what probably would normally do.” 

“He’s a really good teacher and he’s a lot of fun and he does like to friendly tease, which makes it a better environment,” said Estella Ramirez, senior, West Iron County High School.

“He really is a great teacher,” said Dale Kamppainen, senior, West Iron County High School. “You can talk to him more as a friend than like a teacher. He’s helpful.”

“He takes time for all of the students and in my case, this year I got put in a Website Design II second semester, but he let me do Advanced Desktop instead of Website Design II and just make it like a second hour,” said Charles Maki, senior, West Iron County High School. “More work on his end, but he let me do what I wanted to do over the other one so that’s pretty cool.”

“Well, I’ve subbed in other grades,” said Rometti. “Middle school is a little too energetic for me. Elementary school, they’re fun but I don’t know, I just clicked with that age group. It’s neat to see them mature. It’s neat to see the difference between a freshman when they come in and what they leave as. It’s fun when the lightbulb goes on and they get excited about the things you’re teaching. I guess it’s all those things. It’s just a fun group to work with. The hard thing is, you get to know these kids for four years and then they move on and you don’t know where they’re going to end up so you lose track of them. Social media has helped a lot with that.”

Now that Mr. Rometti is saying goodbye to teaching, he says he has mixed emotions but it’s time for his next adventure in life

“It’s hard to do the daily grind I guess,” said Rometti. “All the lesson planning, all of the grading. That part has gotten old. The students haven’t gotten old. That’s the part I still love. I might come back and sub next year just to be around the students. I don’t think I’ll ever quit enjoying that. It’s just all of the paperwork and all of that stuff that just has gotten old. I’ve been telling people, they’ve been asking me how does it fell to be coming to the end? Probably the most challenging thing is, I’ve been Mr. Rometti for 31 years and I’m not sure what I’m going to be next. So, I’ll have to figure all of that out, but it’s exciting.”

In his retirement, Rometti plans on relaxing and traveling on mission trips through his church

“You know, It’s what I’ve done everyday for so long,” said Rometti. “I probably will find out what I miss next fall when I don’t come back here. I’ve got a lot of great coworkers. The school is full of really great teachers and administrators. I will miss them, but it will be the students mostly I think.”

“Mr. Rometti, you were probably the coolest teacher here,” said Zupancic. “I don’t know what the students in the future are going to do without somebody like you to help them along.”

“Thank you, Mr. Rometti,” said Ramirez. “You’re a very good teacher and you’ve really helped me get over website design. It’s a tough class.”

“I just want to thank you Mr. Rometti for the opportunities, like learning computer,” said Maki

“Thank you Mr. Rometti,” said Kamppainen. “You really helped me.”