Congratulations to Mike Poole, Cache High School’s 2023-24 Teacher of the Year!
Honored as Cache High School’s Teacher of the Year, Mike Poole promotes individual success in the classroom by emphasizing the significance of small achievements.
Poole grew up in West Valley, Utah, and graduated from Hunter High School. He earned his associate’s degree at Rick’s College and his bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Utah. Unsure of what to do moving forward, he contemplated his true passion and discovered he loves to assist and support others.
“I graduated with a history degree and still didn’t know what I wanted. So I thought about special education,” Poole expressed. “I have a sister who’s severely disabled, and that influenced many decisions in my life. And so, I wanted to work with kids that struggle. It fits into my personality.”
After making this pivotal decision, Poole earned his teaching license from Utah State University and his master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Phoenix.
Poole started his career by working in the district office at Granite School District for a year before teaching at Salem Hills High School for six years. He then taught at Mountain Crest High School for one year and Sky View High School for five years. He is currently in his second year at Cache High School.
At Cache High, Poole teaches a diverse group of students with and without disabilities. He teaches various subjects, including math and grammar, but his primary focus is skill development. Poole is passionate about helping his students cultivate reading habits and enhance their comprehension skills.
“I teach English, math, reading, and whatever the skill is. If they can get a little better each day, I feel that’s successful,” Poole conveyed. “I hope they can use these skills in the real world.”
When Poole teaches, he instills in his students the belief that they can overcome complex challenges in their academic journey and throughout their lives. He genuinely strives to help students experience a sense of achievement, regardless of the required time. He celebrates small victories, such as a struggling student grasping a problematic concept or finding the motivation to complete a task.
“One of the things they talk about in special education is that, you know, everybody can learn, but it might take three years for this one student to get from this point to this point. In comparison, another student can take two weeks. You must be patient with the learning process and realize they will get here. It might take us a long time. One of the most rewarding experiences I ever had was with a student who had the same math for three years. After three years of those classes, finally, it clicked! The little victories.”
Over the years, Poole’s approach to teaching has evolved. He learned that customizing assignments and teaching methods to better address a student’s specific needs results in more remarkable academic strides.
“I think overall, how I’ve changed is just seeing the student more as an individual. I can look at where the student is and change an assignment to meet this student’s needs,” Poole reflects. “So, I think looking at a class as a group of individuals, versus just here’s your assignment and get it done, is a big change. As teachers, we often get stuck in how we’ve got to do these assignments, or we’ve got to get this information instead of thinking that the student is right here in front of us.”
According to Cache High School Principal Sheri Hansen, “Mike is patient, kind, and has a clear expectation for learning. He has been teaching at Cache High for one year, but his ability to connect with our population has been impressive. He makes Cache High a great place to be.”