A dream comes true for Niles Southside teacher

Published 12:19 am Tuesday, August 31, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Marty Oleson is glad to be back at Southside School in her new teaching position after four years away.
Oleson, who was an outreach counselor at Southside for 13 years, just received her teaching certification this past summer.
Southside School is a special education center. Students at Southside range in age of 16 to 26 years old. Students either take pre-vocational training, such as life skills training, or they are placed in Severely Emotionally Impaired classes where they learn skills to better integrate into society.
But it hasn't been an easy road for Oleson to get where she is. Oleson, who teaches earth science, math, English, US history, and cooking to pre-vocational students, has hit a couple of potholes along the way.
Born and raised in Niles, Oleson tried to get her teaching certification in special education from Western Michigan University 29 years ago.
But after WMU cancelled its hearing impaired learning program in 1975, Oleson found herself disillusioned and in need of direction, she said.
After leaving school, Oleson took a job as an administrative assistant for the Independent Businessmen's Association, a group which provided insurance and benefits to small business owners in the Kalamazoo area.
In 1977, Oleson married her husband, Robert, and moved back to Niles where she worked in banking for some time.
In March of 1986, Oleson got her chance to return to education when she answered an ad in the newspaper for an outreach counselor at Southside.
As an outreach counselor, Oleson worked as a teaching assistant with the severely emotionally impaired students, transporting them to and from school.
Five years ago, Marty and Robert, decided to take what they called their "five year sabbatical."
Robert got into antiquities and Marty decided that she would fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a teacher.
Oleson enrolled part-time at Southwest Michigan College in 1999 and attended that school for two years before transferring to Indiana University-South Bend.
Oleson attended IUSB part-time for three years and graduated this past spring with a 4.0 grade point average and a minor-disability bachelor's of science degree. She was also honored by the education department at IUSB with an excellence in education for special education.
Because she graduated in Indiana, she was automatically certified to teach in that state, so this past summer was one filled with even more tests so Oleson could become certified to teach in Michigan.
Marty and Robert live in Niles with their four children, Ryan, Katie, Sean, and Shannon.