Rob Finkle, Slauson Middle School self-contained classroom teacher

This is Rob Finkle’s 18th year of teaching. The oldest of three brothers, he graduated from Holly High School and went on to work as a welder for five years.  While volunteering at church helping kids, he decided to enroll at Eastern Michigan University to become a special education teacher.  He then taught an elementary resource room class the first three years of his career before moving to a middle school CI classroom.  “I dreaded the move,” he recalls, “but it ended up being the best move of my career.  I love the middle school setting and especially the CI self-contained classroom.”

Finkle taught in the Holly Area School District for 12 years before moving to Slauson Middle School for the last five years. 

He and his wife Emily have a 3-year-old daughter named Lainey.  They enjoy spending time outside, grow a large vegetable garden, preserving many of the vegetables they harvest.  They also have two beehives at home.  “This is the first year of beekeeping and it has been a fun learning experience,” he says. “The trick will be getting our bees to survive this winter. ” They also made maple syrup for the first time last winter, tapping their own maple trees and those of two neighbors. Finkle also enjoys fishing and hunting when he gets the chance.

Slauson Principal Lisa Anglin says Finkle is one of the most amazing teachers she’s had the pleasure to work with and learn from.

“His knowledge and capacity for serving students is exceptional,” she says. “He is a highly valued member of the Slauson staff and his contributions to the SMS Student Support team demonstrate his desire to work with and support the SISS team. Mr. Finkle and his team create a fun, safe, and engaging learning environment for students. “

What will you remember most about the school year 2020-21?  I will remember how much I had to talk during online learning.  I remember being exhausted from talking so much.

How is this year going so far?  The beginning of this school year has been different than in the past.  It’s almost like it’s a new thing to students since they haven’t had a traditional first day in a couple of years.  

Why did you decide to go into special education?  I wanted to be an advocate for students with special needs.  I wanted to teach them how to be an advocate for themself as well.  

What don’t people understand about self-contained classrooms?  We are like a family in the self-contained classrooms.  Our students stay with us most of the day and typically from grades 6 through 8.  We really get to know our students and their needs.  Our team isn’t just me and the paraprofessionals.  It also includes our school social worker, the speech and language pathologist, the occupational therapist, the physical therapist, and the adaptive PE teacher, along with all the other adults who help us out on a regular basis.  

When you recall your first year of teaching, what memories stand out?  I remember panicking before the first day of school.  I called a teacher friend of mine and she reassured me that I would be fine.  

What is the most rewarding part of teaching?  Seeing that light go on when a student figures something out.  I love it.  That never gets old.  

What’s unique about working at Slauson? A unique thing about Slauson is how old the building is.  The architecture of the entrance is just beautiful and there is an old (nonfunctioning) fireplace in what used to be the library that is amazing.   

What are you looking forward to this year?  I’m looking forward to a sense of normalcy.  The last year and a half has been hard and getting back to school will be a good thing.  

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