Alumni Q&A: Michael Schulte ’14, English Dept. Chair at Melrose H.S.
Above, Michael Schulte ’14 (third from left) with some of his students at Melrose High School in Memphis, TN.
Michael Schulte ’14 (ΦΔΘ)
Campus affiliations and activities while you were at Westminster?
Phi Delta Theta, Christian Leadership Council, Interfaith Advisory Board, Student Judiciary Board
What was your major?
Middle School Education and Spanish
What other degrees do you hold?
Master of Urban Education from Union University
Describe your current work.
I’m an English teacher and English Department chair at Melrose High School, a “high-needs” Title I high school in Memphis, TN. We are a turnaround school, meaning we have been labeled as bottom 5% in the state and are aggressively working to improve student achievement at a faster rate than a traditional public school.
So, depending on the day and the time of day, I wear many different hats — teacher, counselor, department chair, life coach, motivator, data collector, disciplinarian, parent, ride giver, basketball stats keeper, lunchroom monitor, homework helper, snack provider, etc. I never know what a day will bring, and that is why my job is one of the best in the world.
What role did Westminster play in leading you to your current position?
Westminster opened my eyes to many of the harsh realities of the world and motivated me to engage with these injustices in order to create a better world for all people — especially those who have been historically and systemically marginalized.
What do you consider your greatest success?
Though I have experienced success in life after Westminster, I think the best barometer for my achievement as a teacher and as a professional will be what my students do after high school. Many of my students come to school dealing with trauma and poverty and hopelessness. Despite these challenges, I believe that many, if not all, of my students can lead lives of success and significance. So in a few years, I hope to say that my greatest success is playing a prominent role in a student’s life when they become the first in their family to graduate from college or the first in their family to break the cycle of poverty by receiving a high-quality, well-paying job that can support them without assistance. Ultimately, it is my students’ success or lack of success that will become my legacy.
What are your future goals?
I hope to continue teaching for a few years. Then I plan to go back to school in order to receive a Ph.D in education. Specifically, I would like to study the socialization of men in the inner city and how schools can design curriculum that aides in the development of masculinity. With that degree, my ultimate goal is to open an all-boys charter school in a high-needs neighborhood which provides young men with a holistic, progressive education focusing not just on academics, but also on physical and emotional well-being.
Do you recommend Westminster to prospective college students?
YES! Westminster College is a high-quality liberal arts school. There, your ideas and your worldview are challenged in a supportive environment. There, you engage with essential texts that teach you how to think about important issues facing our nation and our world. There, you meet people from diverse backgrounds that will become your friends for life. Essentially, Westminster is a place where paradigm shifts happen, where deep and true learning takes places inside and outside of the classroom.
Favorite Westminster faculty member?
Dr. John Langton, Dr. Cowles, Dr. Serota, and Dr. Erin Martin (I would not have passed Calc 3 without her!)
Favorite spot on campus?
Phi Delt Chapter Room … It was the silent space I would go when I needed some time to think and process new ideas and perspectives.
Last book you read?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Favorite TV show?
This is Us, New Girl, House of Cards or The West Wing (the best show ever created).
What organizations are you involved in?
Phi Delta Theta Academic Advisor at University of Memphis
Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
I would love to say that I spend Sunday doing anything but lesson planning or yard work, but that is not the case. Ideally, I would have some time to sit on the porch and read and read and read some more.