Teaching is in the blood for King Elementary’s Tom Clarkson. His second grade classroom includes several school books that his grandmother used in the early 1900’s as a teacher in an Ontario one-room school.
Clarkson grew up in Southfield, Michigan and earned an Elementary Education degree from the University of Michigan and then a Masters Degree focusing on Children with Special Needs from Eastern Michigan University.
He currently lives in Novi with his wife Kelly, a manager in the IT Department at Henry Ford Hospital. His daughter works for St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor and his son will graduate this week with a degree in packaging from Michigan State University.
What led you to a career in teaching and specifically focusing on elementary aged students? In my mind, almost every teacher would say that they love kids and want to be there to help them. In that way, I’m no different than any of the others. I truly love children and want to help them, whether it’s with academics, social skills, or whatever. I chose elementary education as my focus because I never liked going to school as a child and I didn’t want children to feel the same way. I try to have fun everyday in the room, by cracking jokes and making sure they laugh as they learn. I know school is a key for future success and that they’ll be there for a minimum of 13 years. So, why not enjoy at least 13 years of your life?
How long have you been teaching in Ann Arbor Public Schools and have you taught elsewhere? My entire 27 years of teaching has been in Ann Arbor at the same school, King, in the same room, and in the same grade, 2nd. To say I love it is an understatement! I’m already looking forward to year 28!
What are key qualities for a good teacher to have? A teacher has to be caring, motivated, and able to multitask.
What advice would you give to students considering becoming a teacher or someone just entering the profession? Keep going to school, work hard, and enjoy it! There’s no better profession as far as I’m concerned!
Are there any teachers you consider mentors that helped when you first started teaching? Yes, my retired colleague and friend, Cheryl Jones. She retired some years ago, but was my true “buddy” at King. I hear she’s upset with me because I haven’t had lunch with her in awhile. So, I’ll have to get on that.
What’s one of your most memorable moments or funniest things that has happened in your classroom? Well, there are lots of “funny” things that go on in a classroom every day. As you know, kids say and do the funniest things. But what’s “funny/interesting” now is that because I’ve been teaching so long, my former students are now adults. In fact, my current pre-student teacher was a student of mine! Now, my former students are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and being productive members of society. It’s quite amazing and touching!
What do you do in your free-time to recharge and relax? I love to be with my family whether it’s on vacation or not. Going out to dinner with them is also awesome. If I’m not doing those things, I’m playing tennis or watching sports. I love sports!
– Andrew Cluley
AAPS District News