This week’s “School Spotlight” is on Chuck Grimsey, Dixon Middle School sixth-grade science teacher. Grimsey has been an educator for 24 years, all at DMS in the same grade, after spending 20 years in the Marine Corps and retiring as a master sergeant. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington and is a two-time DMS Teacher of the Year.
Q. What encouraged you to pursue your job as an educator?
A. Originally, I pursued a teaching degree to coach school sports, but little did I know the teaching bug would sting me. I love watching young minds grow. It is an amazing sight. I coached my very first Pop Warner football team in 1975, at Havelock while stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
Q. What encouraged you to pursue education within your specific age level/curriculum?
A. I wanted a chance to get to the young mind before it would be taken over by hormones. I have taught sixth-grade math and science for 24 years at the same school. I was in the same room for 19 years until DMS opened a new school last year.
Q. What is your main education philosophy?
A. My philosophy on education has changed so much over the years. The key is diversification in your teaching methods. No two minds learn a like. Behavior management and classroom management are a key to success in teaching.
Q. What is a lesson you have learned from your students?
A. I learned early on that I couldn’t use my master sergeant skills or language (adjectives) that I was used to in the Marine Corps.
Q. What is your favorite part of being an educator?
A. Seeing the smile and bright-eyed shining face of a child that eventually grasps a concept in my classroom. I love the look of success.
Q. What advice would you give to upcoming/new educators?
A. Teaching is a calling and it is not for everyone. It was much easier when our classes were 20 to 25 students. Now, with class sizes of 35 to 40, having a very structured approach within your classroom is key.
Q. What are three words that would describe your life outside of the classroom? (hobbies, interests, etc.)
A. Used to be coach, umpire, referee. Now is retirement, motor-home, travel.
Q. What is a favorite memory from your career?
A. The success of my former students. I have taught students that have gone on to become doctors, dentists, teachers and business owners. In fact, I’m currently working with one of my former students who is now in her 10th year of teaching. At last count, I have taught 16 current teachers. But now I feel really old because I’m teaching kids of kids whom I’ve taught.
Q. What advice would you give to a parent of a sixth-grader?
A. This a tough one. But to be very honest, parents need to be parents and not try and become their child’s best friend. Second, limit the internet and social media. Get your child outside and let them discover our planet Earth.
Q. What changes would you like to see implemented in the school system within the next five years?
A. Lower the number of students in the classroom, bring back the text book and stop trying to reinvent the wheel. The system works, but only when parents, students and teachers have a positive approach.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you face as an educator in a military town?
A. Being a male role model to the children of deployed service members. This has not been a challenge, but a pleasure.
Q. How has your military experience shaped your teaching style or perspective?
A. Giving good directions and feedback. When I was on active duty as an aviation maintenance control chief, I oversaw over 250 Marines, as well as scheduled and un-scheduled maintenance for multi-million-dollar aircraft. Daily, I assigned aircraft to a heavy flight schedule, signed off aircraft safe for flight and tested aircraft after a major maintenance task was performed. Take it from me, teaching is much harder and demanding.
Q. How do you think serving your country as a U.S. Marine and serving your community as an educator are similar for you?
A. I left home at 18, was promoted to master sergeant in 17 years, survived cancer, retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years and graduated magnum cum laude from UNCW. Since then I’ve taught sixth grade for 24 years and was voted Teacher of the Year by my peers twice. I’m turning 65 years of age this coming September. I served both the Marine Corps and community proudly, gladly and gratefully.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share about being an educator?
A. Besides enlisting into the Marine Corps, becoming a teacher was the second-best decision that I’ve made in my life. The first, was marrying my wife of 43 years who has shared alongside me in both my careers. In fact, over the past 18 years, my wife and I have taught in the same school in the same hallway. It has been a dream job and environment. We are retiring together this school year.