ALPENA — Just a few short years ago, Trevor Roznowski walked the halls of Alpena High School as a student.
Now, at 23 years old, Roznowski is back at Alpena High in a different role, molding young minds as a mathematics teacher.
It wasn’t the path Roznowski necessarily envisioned when he graduated as part of Alpena’s Class of 2017, but it’s a role he’s now thankful for as he works with students, building relationships and helping them plan their futures.
“It is really neat to see how things have changed, even in a short time like in the past five years, but also to know what I had as a student and as an athlete and as an individual in this community,” Roznowski said. “I think that’s the coolest thing about being back is I want to hopefully provide all of my students, athletes, the young people I work with a better experience than I did. That’s what makes it most worthwhile for me.”
Roznowski, who graduated from Ferris State University last year, returned to Alpena last fall in a student teaching role, which allowed him to then get hired into a full-time position once his time as a student teacher ended.
He originally went to school to pursue a career in the medical field, but ultimately changed majors during his freshman year when he realized he wanted a career where he could build longterm relationships with people.
Teaching provided such an outlet, and he found passionate Ferris professors who helped foster his growing interest in teaching through classroom activities and field experiences.
“I think that was really what teaching was for me, was an opportunity to work with people, over the long term, build relationships with them, help them grow, and, hopefully, be strong, contributing members to society,” Roznowski said. “That was something I didn’t really see for myself in the medical field.”
At a time when educators and school districts battle teacher shortages, teacher burnout, navigating a post-coronavirus-pandemic world, and other obstacles, Roznowski acknowledged that teaching is a challenging job.
But it’s a challenge he welcomes every day as he works to help students reach their full potential.
Teaching is a calling, he said, and his job is to support students and help them grow.
“I definitely welcomed it as a challenge going into the profession,” Roznowski said. “I think it takes a really strong person to be an educator these days, maybe more than ever, just because of some of the challenges we face. There’s a lot of expectations, a lot of duties that we have to do daily, but I don’t think I’d really trade it for anything in the world.”
Making a positive impact on the lives of students extends to athletics. In addition to serving as an assistant coach with Alpena’s football team, Roznowski is coach of the Woods Track Club indoor track team in the winter and the head coach of Alpena High’s girls track team in the spring.
There are a lot of parallels between teaching and coaching, Roznowski said, and it’s another avenue he uses to reach students and help them achieve things they may think are impossible.
As a high school athlete, Roznowski competed in football, basketball, and track and field and also competed in track and field at Ferris State.
“Helping them achieve what they think is impossible is really the coolest thing for me,” Roznowski said. “A lot of my positive role models, great mentors in high school and even in college as a college athlete were coaches, and I think I always wanted to return the favor in that way, as well.”
As a teacher in his hometown, Roznowski said one of the strangest things about his profession is his interactions with teachers who taught him and are now his colleagues. But they’ve all helped him and continue to help him along the way in his teaching journey, he said, and it’s another reason why he considers his job so rewarding.
“I think people who are going to be educators know they are going to be educators,” Roznowski said. “It is a calling, more so even than a profession. I think a lot of educators do this because it’s what they love. They love working with students. They love sharing information with them, helping them become better than they were before, hopefully helping them become the best versions of themselves. I think that’s what’s special about being a teacher.”