Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

“It’s Like Coming Home” Long Term Sub Michal Wheeler reflects on her 8 weeks as a Science Teacher

Reegan Cook
Students wait for more directions on dissecting the fetal pig from teacher Steffanie Portenga.

When Arielle Sprague announced her maternity leave, Michal Wheeler, who has been subbing since last fall, took over her 3 earth science and 2 honors biology classes. 

“I missed being in school,” said Wheeler. “ I love being in high schools and being around teenagers.”

She retired from teaching high school in 2010. Before her retirement, she taught culinary but now subs for all classes. 

“I’ve been loving it,¨ said Wheeler.  ¨I’ve had such tremendous support from (teacher Steffanie) Portenga and (teacher Nick) Vlietstra. They both got me through this period.”

Vlietstra, another earth science teacher, helped her through the curriculum and guided her throughout her time. 

“She works really hard, and she cares a lot, ” sad Vliestra. “She wants to see her students succeed.”  

A part of the honors biology curriculum is a fetal pig dissection. This was her first time doing any type of dissection.

“I had an aversion to it at first, but the kids did really well,” Wheeler said as she chuckled.  “As the days went on, it got a little more interesting; however, it’s something I don’t look forward to doing ever again.”

Steffanie Portenga, the other Honors Biology teacher, worked very closely with Wheeler, guiding her through the dissection and even letting her use her room for the final test. 

“She is undoubtedly one of the best teachers I have ever seen in action, ” said Wheeler. “She is so smart and good with kids and organized and just really knows her subject.” 

She also really cares about her students. 

“I don’t have as much free time to connect with the kids as I would like because I’m too busy trying to give them what they need to keep their grades up,” said Wheeler. “I want them to do well, and I don’t want them to suffer just because I don’t know the content as well.” 

Outside of subbing, she loves to read, bike, bake, knit, and work out. She plans to continue subbing next year. 

“ I love being back at high school, ” said Wheeler. “It’s like coming home.” 


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Reegan Cook, Reporter

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