Westview teacher retires after 52 years

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 22, 2016

WARREN — Ever since he was in the sixth grade, George Cutshaw knew he wanted to be an educator.

“I just had a lot of good teachers,” he said. “I felt they had a good influence on me.”

Cutshaw followed his heart, and since 1964 has taught in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district, clocking in 52 years of teaching. Now, after five decades in education, the Westview Elementary physical education teacher has decided to retire at the age of 78.

“It was time,” he said. “It’s been a real nice ride. I enjoyed it. I’ll miss the friendships I have with the teachers I got. I’ll miss the children I have had. I’ll miss the structure of getting up and knowing you’ve got some place to go.”

When Cutshaw first came to the district 52 years ago, he was a permanent substitute two days a week and taught physical education in the district. Seven years into his teaching career, Cutshaw taught sixth grade at the now-closed Neigebaur building until 1984. In 2000, he relocated to Westview Elementary to teach fifth grade and eventually went back into the physical education department. It has been a labor of love.

“I never worked a day in my life,” said Cutshaw, who also coaches tennis at Warren Woods Tower High School. “I always had fun. What I really enjoyed is I could act like a kid and be as silly as I wanted.”

One lesson he hoped he got across to his students is to “Win with humility, lose with dignity, and never say never.”

The biggest challenge for Cutshaw over the years was watching the breakdown of the family structure. Because of that, he said, students didn’t take responsibility for their actions and didn’t have as much respect for their teachers.

On his way to becoming an educator, Cutshaw attended Jackson College and Albion College and eventually earned his master’s degree from Wayne State University. In between college, Cutshaw served three years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was stationed in Germany.

“Loved it,” he said of his time serving his country. “Good discipline.”

The students at Westview will miss their gym teacher.

“He was nice and sweet,” fifth-grader Brooke Parks said. “He’s really fun.”

“He really likes to make jokes,” fifth-grader Hilary Kutella said. “I’ll miss his personality. I don’t think we’ll have another teacher like him.”

“He makes fun activities like doing basketball and flag tag,” fifth-grader Travis Stanichuk said, who added that Cutshaw always went “after” him when playing dodgeball.

“He makes us work,” Kutella said. “He didn’t do it as a chore, but as a choice.”

Cutshaw, who has four children — three of them teachers — and four grandchildren, will be plenty busy in his retirement. He and his wife, Elaine, plan on traveling, including visits to northern Michigan and to their hometown of Jackson. Trying their luck at casinos is also part of the plan.

For all his years in education, Cutshaw was the recipient of a surprise retirement celebration at the school June 13.

“It is very unusual to have a teacher complete so many years in education,” Superintendent Barbara VanSweden said in an email. “He is a very special person and deserves the recognition.”

On June 9 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center, the Fitzgerald Education Association (FEA) hosted its annual retirement party for teachers leaving the profession. During the event, special commendations for Cutshaw were presented on behalf of the Michigan Legislature and the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

“Fitzgerald Public Schools is losing an institution,” Fitzgerald Education Association President Chris Kriss said in a prepared statement. “George has always been there for the district’s teachers and students, and things will not be the same without him. He will be missed greatly, but we couldn’t be happier for him. We know he will be as active in retirement as he has been in his career.”