Class act

September 29, 1990

Michael Poletynski hasn't missed a day of school in 22 years No, he's not a perpetual student. He's an English teacher.

Poletynski began his teaching career at Parkville High School i September 1968, three months after graduating from Towson State College. That's when his streak began, too.

The 44-year-old educator doesn't like to tout his streak at school, where he says few students or teachers are even aware of it. But he does believe in teaching by example, and he takes seriously the example he sets for his students. A big part of being a good teacher, he says, is being there every day for the students.

"It's such a simple thing. You do your job the best you can. In fact, that's what I tell my students: It doesn't matter what you do for a living, as long as you do your job well."

Poletynski, who has also been the yearbook adviser for 21 years, has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades over the years. His devotion to teaching is only rivaled by his faith in young people.

His classes often have included students with basic skills problems -- classes that he likes to teach because "they're the kids that need you most." The reward, he says, is watching them "find out they're smarter than they've been told they are over the years."

A 1964 graduate of Overlea High School, Poletynski attributes his pursuit of a teaching career to the influence of his own high school English teacher, Jean Clark -- now an associate professor at Morgan State University.

Poletynski says he's had little trouble keeping up his streakalthough periodically he hears a bit of chiding about "you and that streak" at home.

So far, his wife, Theresa Brady, also a teacher, has been the one to miss work when their daughter 5-year-old Sarah gets sick. But Poletynski says if caring for his daughter or taking a personal day to attend one of her school functions -- now that she's in kindergarten -- should necessitate breaking his streak, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

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