Some of you may know him as Corporal Mike Klein, of Northern Michigan University’s Public Safety Department. But in his other role, Mike served as a teaching assistant (TA). He previously assisted Professor Robert Hanson in his CJ 213 Judicial Function class.
Mike said, “I needed an elective for my master’s degree in criminal justice and I’ve always wanted to be able to teach.” It was Dr. Dale Kapla, department head for the Criminal Justice Department, who recommended that he become a TA. “I have known Dr. Dale Kapla for my entire career,” commented Mike. The way Dr. Kapla set out to reach a goal and reached it is the perfect example of a mentor. “He had a goal of becoming a college professor and he achieved it. He is a success story for everyone to follow.”
Although Mike enjoys his road patrol duties, he really loved working with students trying to make them better. “I became a teaching assistant because I wanted to expand my knowledge of teaching. I’ve been a police officer for the past 19 years,” Mike said. In addition to his police experience, he was also able to bring his experiences as an emergency medical technician and a fire fighter to the classroom.
There are pros and cons to being a TA. Although Mike did not have any negative comments, he explains, “The pros of being a TA are the interactions with the students.” Professor Hanson tried to incorporate different technologies in his class work. Learning all the different ways to teach students with various teaching aids such as computers, videos, and lectures is something Mike also liked to do in this TA experience. According to Mike, “Professor Hanson takes the time to show me all of the little nuances [ins and outs] of teaching and what it takes to teach at the college level.” If you want to do well as a TA, Mike recommends you, “be open to new ideas and take it all in as a learning experience.”
When we asked Mike to describe any challenges he may have had to overcome in life, he commented, “I was taught an important lesson when taking a math class and failing it twice. My first instructor, David Powers, who failed me the first time, told me, ’I know you can do better, because I know you as a person.’ Professor Powers pushed me and I received a ‘B’ after six weeks. I had to do all the math problems in each of the chapters with an 80% or better, take a test for each chapter with a score of 80% or higher to move onto the next chapter. I always tell people; Professor Powers took the time to make me a better person and helped me achieve my goals.”
After he finishes his master’s degree, Mike declared, “I would like to continue teaching at NMU as an Assistant Professor and retire as a road patrol officer.” Something that Mike says he will keep in mind along the journey is, “the road to your future may take turns and bends or even dead ends. My advice is to always stay on the road and you will find success.”
Mike grew up in Lake Linden, a small mining town in the Copper Country. Mike reminisces, “It was great place to grow up, if you liked outdoor activities; hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, etc. Family, religion, and school/sports were the norm. ”If you ask him who his hero is, he would say, “My parents, wife, and family. They keep me grounded and are honest with me, even though I may not want to hear what they have to say.” Many would agree with Mike’s assessment of himself; he is honest, responsible, helpful, resourceful, and dependable. He does not recall his childhood aspirations, but responds, “I would have never thought I would attend college and graduate with a master’s degree. I would be the first one in my family.” Although he does explain that, his wife Ami received her degree in 2005. Mike and his wife Ami live in Negaunee with their two children Kendra and Kolton.
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