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Beloved Adams Teacher and Coach Steve Shaltz 'Inspired Curiosity'

Friends, colleagues and former students reflect on their social studies teacher and wrestling coach, who died suddenly this week at age 51.

He wore flannel shirts in the summer and shorts in the winter. He liked to read and was known for his geography haikus. He loved sports and held stock in the Green Bay Packers.

And he once helped a good friend rack up a $750 phone bill by talking for two to three hours a day about high school wrestling. 

Steve Shaltz, a beloved wrestling and track coach and a longtime teacher at , died Monday at his home in Washington Township. He was 51. His funeral is planned for 5 p.m. Thursday in Romeo. The cause of his death was not yet known, school officials said. 

"He was an outstanding teacher and a dedicated member of our Adams family," said Adams Principal Kevin Cumming. "This is a big loss for our school and for our district.

"The kids loved coming to his classes. He pushed them in the classroom. But he was a little eccentric and the kids really loved him."

Cumming said students learned of their teacher's death on the public announcement system on Monday. Counselors have been made available to students. It is finals week at Adams; the last day of school for the district is Friday. Cumming said students have already expressed their desire to create a memorial or somehow pay tribute to Shaltz; Cumming said he is waiting to speak with Shaltz's family before making any plans.

Shaltz taught Philosophy and AP History at Adams. He has been with the district since 1989, teaching at , and before coming to Adams. 

In 2007, Shaltz was inducted into the National Honor Roll's Outstanding American Teachers. 

“Steve touched many students’ lives throughout the district, both in the classroom and on the athletic field,” said Cumming. “He had a quick wit and lots of funny sayings that endeared him to his students.

"Steve and his trademark flannel shirts will be greatly missed by all of us.” 

A mentor, a teacher, a friend

Shaltz was in his 10th season as an assistant wrestling coach at Adams; he was a high school wrestler himself at Romeo High School.

Mike Holtz is the Adams head wrestling coach. Holtz has known Shaltz half of his life: they first met back when Holtz himself was a student at Adams.

On Wednesday, Holtz called Shaltz one of his best friends.

"He was a mentor," Holtz said. "He was a teacher to many and a coach to many. He was willing to give the shirt off his back to those around him. He loved to help others and definitely put his students and his family first."

When Holtz first accepted the wrestling coach position at Adams five years ago, he was living in Florida. He said he talked to Shaltz, the assistant coach, during the time between his hiring and his moving back to Michigan — sometimes for two to three hours at a time. (Hence, the $750 phone bill.)

"One of his most admirable qualities was his honesty. He would let you know what he was thinking and he gave great advice," Holtz said.

Another admirable quality? What Holtz and others at Adams called his "Shaltz-isms."

"He was definitely unique. He had a lot of quirks and sayings. I told the boys on the team this week that when they are driving or in class and something reminds them of Steve, that they are going to smile and know he is looking down on them."

He inspired curiosity

Marc Santoro graduated from Adams in 2006; he is a former captain of the wrestling team.

"It is difficult to find a guy who was more beloved by almost all students," Santoro said. "He carried a unique energy, was constantly entertaining, and taught in a way that inspired curiosity yet commanded respect. He knew how to make you have fun and how to make you work hard.

"It's difficult to put into words how the man was so widely regarded at Adams but I assure you no loss of the sort could be having a bigger impact on more alumni."

On the Rochester Patch Facebook page, Adams graduate Kristy Lewis offered similar words of praise for her beloved teacher.

"From 'activate the gamma shield and secure the parameter' to the my-country-is-better-than-your-country debates and world geography haikus, Mr. Shaltz taught us how learning could be fun," Lewis wrote.

"I will always remember how he added a question on my test for my prom date to ask me to prom. He was a one-of-a-kind teacher and I am blessed to have had him. He impacted so many of his students and will be greatly missed.

"Rest in peace, Mr. Shaltz."

Visitation, funeral

According to his obituary posted online at henrymmalburg.com, Shaltz is survived by his daughter, Caroline Shaltz of Rochester, his mother, Marion Shaltz of Romeo, his brother, Tom (Carol) Shaltz of New Hudson and his niece, Michaela, and nephew, William. He was preceded in death by his father, Warren Shaltz, in 1994.

Funeral services will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Henry M. Malburg Funeral Home in Romeo. Visitation is planned for 2 - 8 p.m. 

Holtz, the wrestling coach, said he plans to be there for the entire 2-8 p.m. visitation. 

"He would have done the same for me," Holtz said. "We were blessed and fortunate to have known him."

Dano June 15, 2012 at 01:05 PM
My son also was tought by Mr. Shaltz and attended the funeral yesterday. There were many former students in attendance to honor the life of an educator who actually cared for his students ( as many also do). Shaltz was special and will be missed by many students and colleagues at Adams HS. Now "secure the perimeter".....
Kristin Bull June 15, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I have heard from several people the "secure the perimeter" reference ... what did that mean? Thank-you for sharing your memories!
Patricia DeJaeger June 15, 2012 at 09:51 PM
He was a wonderful teacher and co-worker. My daughter who has learning disabilities had Steve. He sent me his power point presentations weekly, so I could work with her at home. He wanted her to achieve, and I know if he did it for my daughter, he did it for any student who needed support. The bottom line is, he wanted his students to be successful. I hope I can leave the same kind of legacy. He will be greatly missed.
Dano June 17, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Kristen, "secure the perimeter" was something Mr. Shatlz said at the begginning of each class. A student near the door would then shut and lock the door so that any students late to class would have to wait outside the classroom for a minute or 2 while he finished taking attendence. He always let the late students back in class but you didn't want to be late to Mr Shaltz class.
Justin Schofield June 18, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I have a couple fond memories of the legendary teacher/coach Shaltz. I actually never had him in the classroom but was honored to be coached by him during 3 years on the wrestling team. Some of the classics were his "solid" sayings. One of his favorite words to say, especially when i came in not much overweight. Also during the past season, he would always let me weigh in first because I was cutting the most weight, which meant I could drink and eat first. However, my last memory that I will remember forever is when I asked him only a couple months prior to fill out a recommendation form for National Honor Society. He gave me a 500/10 on character. I will greatly miss Coach Shaltz. R.I.P

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