A legacy will be left on the Carthage community with the structures he's built and in the memories of his students.
After 14 years of teaching students how to use tools, work on a construction site safely, and the processes involved in building a variety of structures, Mike Sharits is hanging up his teaching work belt. In his time as the carpentry instructor at the Carthage (North) Technical Center, Sharits has worked on a lot of projects with a lot students.
It will take someone special to fill those work boots, but he said there are many applicants for his position. One of the applicants is a former student of his; which he said makes him extremely proud as a teacher.
“I like to think I've made a good impact on my students,” he said. “The best compliment is when a student says 'I want your job.' Even if they don't go into construction as a career, they can still use this at home.”
Currently, the carpentry students are working on the “New Hallway” project, as Sharits calls it, that connects the Tech Center to the new Crowder College Career Center. In order for health science students to get to the new center, they have had to walk outside. Not anymore.
Over the years, Sharits' students have built homes and many more useful structures the community. Sharits said in his 14 years with the Carthage School District his favorite project was the press box at K.E. Baker Stadium in 2011.
“I love that thing,” he said. “I enjoyed working on it, I had a good group of students and it turned out real nice.”
He said the best aspect of teaching is the “Best of the Best” competition among the students toward the end of the year. This year, Sarbelio Reyes, a CHS junior, qualified for the SkillsUSA competition by scoring three 100 percents out of four construction projects. A feat Sharits said he has never seen, and probably would never see in another 14 years.
Sharits takes pride in his high-achieving students. When students have the opportunity to return as third-year carpentry students, it's by invitation only, and demonstrates high-level leadership skills. This year, there are two senior foremen, Kari Howard and Tyler Easton.
It's going to be hard to leave.
“I need to spend more time with my family,” Sharits said. “I still love teaching, I'm not ready to give it up. But I'm a Christian and God is telling me it's time to move on. I don't question it – that's what gets me in trouble.”
One of the countless students who have appreciated their time with Sharits is Joran Hartley, a Webb City High School senior.
Page 2 of 2 - “He's a good teacher,” said Hartley. “We've had experience building all kinds of things. It's good work.”
Even though the teaching work belt is retiring, Sharits said he will remain busy. Word has already spread that Sharits' business, Custom Floors by Sharits, is back.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sharits said his business grew from his attention and passion for quality work. In the 1970s and 1980s, Sharits work could be seen on any Dallas high-rise. In 1989, he moved to the Carthage area. He was working on the football field for Missouri Southern State University when he met Diana, a Lamar girl.
From there, the Sharits made this area their home and raised two sons. Now they have two grandchildren.
“It's been a good life, and it's not over,” Sharits said. “It's just the next phase.”