Earning own accomplishment

Instructor’s military upbringing impacts teaching style


Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Rebecca Bortnichak

Mrs. Rebecca Bortnichak, 3, poses with her father and brother after she caught her first fish while ice fishing.

Maddie Swope, Web Journalist

The conception that English teacher Rebecca Bortnichak came from a silver spoon background is one that rings false. The type of teacher and person Bortnichak is today she accredits to the circumstances of her past.

“My parents struggled and they never hid [the truth] from us,” said Bortnichak.

Growing up in a struggling financial situation Bortnichak was forced to learn the value of hard work at a young age.  Her sense of responsibility developed from her parents teachings of  ‘want’ over ‘need’.

“My parents always said if you wanted something you had to work for it,” said Bortnichak.

In the fifth grade she acquired her first job counting night crawlers for a family friend’s store.

“I wanted these pink pair of Nike Airs. They were a pinkish red and I wanted them so bad. The minute I had enough money to buy them, I ordered them. It was my first finding of accomplishment,” said Bortnichak.

Luxuries were not the only thing Bortnichak was required to work for. Her father’s position in the military was not always enough to get their family the essentials they needed.  Activities that were uncommon in other households were a necessity in Bortnichak’s.

“Salmon fishing all weekend and sleeping on the rocks was fun, but it was also a requirement. We canned the salmon and then lived off of it all winter long,” said Bortnichak.

Her hard work was not only shown in her family life, but also throughout her academics.

“I always felt like as a kid in school there was never a definition of what is good. There was always is it good enough, or can it be better,” said Bortnichak.

Growing up in Roscommon, Michigan, Bortnichak’s  teachers left a great impact on her life.

“My teachers were very challenging. They shed this light on a life outside of Roscommon,” said Bortnichak. ” The reason I teach the way I do because I know what it was like to be told,  ‘you can’t give up on yourself and you can’t use your circumstances as an excuse not to be something different.’”

Bortnichak’s own work as a teacher has inspired Senior Bethany Ekin’s to realize the importance of change.

“She holds you accountable for what you do. She makes you realize if you don’t put in the effort you’re never going to change,” said Ekins. “To me she seems very dedicated to the success of her students, but not in the way of giving away an A, but in the way that they’ll be successful in life.”

Some students feel that her press for accountability is really her showing how much she cares.

“She knows how to be funny, but while challenging kids to go above and beyond what they think their best is,” said Senior Zenda Kelly. “She cares too much to just let you be a fool.”

Though Bortnichak’s upbringing  had some impact on the teacher she has become, she attributes her unique approach to her own teachers.

“I know that when I’m teaching, it’s their voices I hear in the back of my head,” said Bortnichak.