I am staying this week at my childhood home and while decluttering the house, I came across my father’s notebook record of his career in education. He worked for 35 years in education in Stambaugh Public Schools and when the district consolidated in the 1967-1968 school year, West Iron County. He started as a teacher at the Caspian Elementary School and after 7 years, became Principal of the school. Sadly for him and me, the Caspian Elementary School closed after the 1969-1970 school year, the year before I was to start kindergarten. It would have been nice to walk to school and have my dad as the principal of the school. Charlie was the last principal of Caspian Elementary School, serving for 5 years from 1965 to 1970. The closure of the Caspian Elementary School was probably because of declining enrollment and cost savings. The building was vacant for years, into the 1980s before being torn down and replaced with a state employment office. The depopulation of Iron County and declining youth enrollment in schools continues today. I see another consolidation in the future, like in 1967 when Stambaugh, Bates Township and Iron River consolidated to form West Iron County High School. Perhaps West Iron County will merge with Forest Park (a consolidation of Crystal Falls, Amasa, Alpha) on the east side of Iron County. The challenge for a possible future Iron County Public Schools is distance. Iron County is large and commuting times would increase.
With the closure of the Caspian Elementary School, my father was transferred to the Stambaugh Elementary School, just up the hill from Caspian. He was my teacher in the 1975-1976 school year when I was a grade 5 student. I went to his classroom for science and social studies. He taught at Stambaugh Elementary School for the next 14 years, teaching mostly grade 5. In 1984-1985, he was transferred again to the Bates Township Elementary School where he was the lead teacher for 3 years.
The Bates Township Elementary School eventually closed and he was transferred back to Stambaugh Elementary School to teach an additional 6 years in grade 4. He retired after the 1992-1993 school year. His career spanned 5 decades (1950s to 1990s) and two school districts (Stambaugh/West Iron County) and three campuses (Caspian,Stambaugh, Bates Township). He was a principal or lead teacher for 9 years total. He taught Grades 4-8 and he also led federal programs for Special Education and Head Start. Most importantly, he influenced the lives of thousands of students in his 35 years in education.