Retired Macomb Lutheran North science teacher Charles Wolf, center, pictured with son-in-law Josh Wagoner, daughter Lauren Wagoner, wife Grace Wolf, son Erick Wolf and his wife Heather Wolf, at a retirement celebration last month.

Retired Macomb Lutheran North science teacher Charles Wolf, center, pictured with son-in-law Josh Wagoner, daughter Lauren Wagoner, wife Grace Wolf, son Erick Wolf and his wife Heather Wolf, at a retirement celebration last month.

Photo provided by Macomb Lutheran North


Macomb Lutheran North science teacher retires after 44 years

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 19, 2019

 Wolf, of Mount Clemens, taught at Macomb Lutheran North for 38 years.

Wolf, of Mount Clemens, taught at Macomb Lutheran North for 38 years.

Photo provided by Macomb Lutheran North

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The lab coat has been hung up for the final time at the high school level.

June 15 marked the last day of school for Macomb Lutheran North chemistry instructor and science department chair Charles Wolf. He retired after 38 years of teaching at North and 44 years overall in the profession.

Wolf, 66, of Mount Clemens, began teaching in 1975 in New York. He later made the move to Macomb Township, starting at North for the 1981-82 school year.

Looking back on nearly four decades at North, Wolf said it’s a great school to teach at with good students.

“The parents give good support,” he said. “It was a lot of fun. The whole ride was pretty exciting and engaging.”

He thanked parents for sending their kids to North and allowing him to be their chemistry teacher.

Being able to teach in a Lutheran environment, he said, was a huge part in being able to share his faith with others.

“I could talk about how God was the one who made it all happen,” he said. “Having students and parents that come from that attitude made it better.”

At North, Wolf taught general chemistry, honor’s chemistry and advanced placement chemistry.

“It’s been getting more challenging to teach and I don’t have the energy I once had,” Wolf said when asked why now was the right time to retire. “Today’s teenagers are certainly a challenge. My sister passed away in October at age 64 and I realized how precious life is.”

His retirement plans include being with his wife Grace, whom he described as a full-time grandmother. The couple has three children and five grandchildren, two of which live in North Carolina. They plan on traveling more, with a trip to Oberammergau, Germany planned for 2020.

Born in Illinois, Wolf grew up in Port Hope, Michigan and attended St. John Lutheran School, a one-room school house. His father, Harold, was his fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-grade teacher.

Early in his schooling, Wolf said his science background was pretty weak. He enjoyed mathematics more and went to a non-accredited public high school, Port Hope Community School, with a graduating class of 19.

In high school, Wolf saw his chemistry teacher do some interesting experiments, which piqued his interest in the subject. His senior year, on a whim, he decided to major in chemistry.

While teaching in New York, Wolf earned a master’s degree in chemistry and science at St. John’s University in 1981. His first child was born around the same time, followed by the move to Michigan.

He has been involved in co-curricular activities at North like coaching track, cross country and Science Olympiad. He coached cross country from 1982 to 1991. He was involved in Science Olympiad from the early ‘90s to 2014. In the spring of 1983, he began coaching girls track as the head coach, continuing to 1991.

What stands out to Wolf from his North career is former students who have gone on with chemistry-related careers. One is a senior research chemist at Eli Lilly and Company, another is a chemist at Dow Chemical in Midland. Others have gone on to be professors.

In 2000, Wolf wrote a textbook, “Chemistry: Applied and Descriptive.” He has also taught chemistry at Macomb Community College since 1992. He plans on teaching at MCC for another three years before calling it quits for good.

Wolf jokingly said he won’t miss anything about teaching high school.

“The first thing I think of is the early mornings, late nights, lots of paper-grading,” he said. “I will miss the students. Teeangers are quirky, but fun.”

He described North as a special community with a homogeneous feel.

“For the most part, we’re all people of faith here and can grow as a team,” Wolf said. “That has impacted the way I see the world. It’s impacted my behavior in a positive way.”

Mark Felten teaches religion and his classroom is across the hall from Wolf’s room.

“I’m going to miss having him across the hall and his friendship,” Felten said. “After all the years of service he’s put in, he certainly deserves to have a nice retirement.”

Business teacher Steve Slagel said Wolf brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the job.

“He was a mentor that we could bounce questions off of,” he said. “He was a friend and colleague. We’re really going to miss him.”   

Wolf, Slagel and Felton shared the same lunch period for a while and recalled fun conversations.

Jacob Klausmeier, a Concordia University Wisconsin graduate, will take over as chemistry teacher at North.