The first thing Michael Stocke does at the beginning of every class is write his name and phone number on the whiteboard at the front of the room.
He tells his students, “If you need help, call me.”
And month after month, his students, who are learning various technology skills, do.
While not a professor, Stocke, the chief information officer of technology for Pierce College, spends time outside of his job doing what he loves: helping people.
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“I love staying busy,” Stocke said. “I love teaching. When you have a passion for teaching, you want to give back.”
I love staying busy. I love teaching. When you have a passion for teaching, you want to give back.
Michael Stocke, chief information officer of technology for Pierce College
Stocke teaches through Pierce College’s Community and Continuing Education Program, which provides classes for personal enrichment, from foreign languages to computers. Stocke’s focus is on technology, with classes on topics including Microsoft Word, Excel, Quickbooks, smartphones and social media.
Stocke has been instructing the classes since 1991, when he joined Pierce College. In 1998, he went to work at the University of Washington Bothell, and then in the Puyallup School District as an associate director. In 2009, he returned to work at Pierce College. Through this time, he continued teaching classes, including nights and weekends.
“We have many adults in the local community (who) who to further their careers,” said the 20-year Puyallup resident.
Many of Stocke’s students are older adults seeking to expand their skills in technology. He also teaches for PierceWorks!, a transition program that helps students who are unemployed or laid off from work find their career paths.
Evelyn Brooks, program manager for PierceWorks!, said that Stocke’s work is changing lives.
“Many of the students that come in have limited computer use, so Mike does a great job in introducing them to computers and walking them through the process and overcoming the fear of getting on a computer,” Brooks said. “I always tell my students that (Stocke) eats, drinks, talks computers.”
Many of the students that come in have limited computer use, so Mike does a great job in introducing them to computers and walking them through the process and overcoming the fear of getting on a computer. I always tell my students that (Stocke) eats, drinks, talks computers.
Evelyn Brooks, program manager for PierceWorks!
Stocke was recognized by the Puyallup South Hill Rotary in May and received the 2017 Community Vocational Award in Education. Stocke also teaches in retirement homes, and is a members of Mountain View Community Center and the Lakewood Lions Club.
Practicing attorney Daniel (Dano) Russ, who previously held Stocke’s position at Pierce College, was the one to nominate Stocke for the Rotary award.
“(Stocke) connects with students,” Russ said. “He’s on the front line assisting those who are uncomfortable with and unknowledgeable with computers, and (he’s) getting them online.”
(Stocke) connects with students. He’s on the front line assisting those who are uncomfortable with and unknowledgeable with computers, and (he’s) getting them online.
Daniel Russ, practicing attorney
Stocke works with students who have experienced domestic abuse, and who are learning how to look for jobs and apply for them online, Russ said.
Russ and Stocke met in the Air Force and have been friends for 25 years. It was in part the Air Force that got Stocke interested in studying technology; his father was a programmer in the Air Force.
“I’d watch my dad type … I said, ‘I want to do that,’” said Stocke.
Stocke joined the Air Force at 18 and spent 22 years in the service. His first sergeant had him teach classes to groups of up to 200.
“He said, ‘You’re the only guy who knows this software,’” Stocke remembered. “He threw some books at me and said, ‘You’re teaching class tomorrow.’”
Stocke hasn’t stopped teaching since.
“When you see the impact you can make — even if it’s tiny — it’s huge,” he said.