“I’m really not very good at arithmetic,” math teacher Michael Grasse said. “So I’ll go out with friends … and everybody always gives me the check and has me split it up. I’m no better at that than anybody else, so I just always make sure everybody but me overpays.”

Grasse, famous for his dad jokes, is widely known as something of a comedian at Prospect. However, this is only one of many descriptors –– teacher, husband, father, musician, friend, mentor, programmer and, for a day, short-order cook — that make up the complexity of his character. Grasse is a unique man of many talents, but this list isn’t final; this spring, after 10 years teaching at Prospect and 30 total in the district, “retiree” will be yet another title added under his belt. 

According to fellow math teacher Katina Frericks, Grasse is nothing like the cliché of retiring teachers in the sense that even in his final semester, he is showing no loss of interest in the future of Prospect. 

“He’s retiring this year, and he’s still doing a lot [to] leave [Prospect] better than when he came in,” Frericks said. “Some retired teachers just say, ‘I’m done; I don’t care what’s happening next,’ but [that’s] definitely not him. He is going above and beyond yet again as he finishes his time here.”

One particular group Grasse has been devoting his remaining time to is the math team. 

“You can tell [Grasse] really cares about math,” said senior Lindsey Perone, a four-year member of the team. “He’s really curious. He loves learning new things [and] doing outside research. He’s really kind [and] really supportive.”

With such a profound presence in the lives of his students and team members, it can be hard to imagine Prospect without Grasse next year. 

“I think [the] math team’s going to miss the leader,” Perone said. “He brings everyone together; he’s probably the reason most of us are there; it’s not a super popular event for freshmen to pick out. It’s going to be harder to get new people [to join].”

Grasse has been a math team coach for 27 years — almost his entire career. He worked at Elk Grove High School for 20 years before moving to Prospect in 2010. 

“There’s something about doing mathematics for joy rather than being under the gun for a test,” Grasse said. “It’s a great privilege to listen to two students work through a math problem and apply things that you know you’ve taught them.”

With all of the ways that Grasse encourages others, his absence will not go unnoticed. 

“[Grasse will be missed] in every way,” Frericks said. “Just his presence. He comes in and is like, ‘Let’s go. We’re ready for the new week.’ [He’s] always positive; I’m trying to think of a time that I’ve seen him being negative, and I can’t. He’s always finding that best part. I’m truly going to miss that he was always a breath of fresh air.”