The Real Education of Stevie C.

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

I went back in time this past weekend.

Friends coming together to honor their teacher

Many folks know that I achieved my technical training in city planning from Michigan State University.  However, most probably do not know that I obtained a real education about life from teachers like Keith Havens at Albion College.

Keith Havens recently retired

At Albion, we were taught that we could and should go out and change the world.  That our existence on this planet was to help others and leave it a better place.  But most importantly, that any worthwhile goal requires a team to accomplish it.

Keith was our swim coach and mentor who taught us the skills we would need in the workplace and life.

What he taught us was loyalty, common sense, time management, emotional intelligence, goal setting, attention to the small details, ability to take criticism, and most importantly leadership.

He personally taught me that I could lead a group of people through peace and by example, not through force and coercion.  That was how Keith led us and I still strive today to be like him.

So, this past weekend we watched as Keith was honored by his employer, friends, and family for a job well done.  He was first inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame for 27 years of service.  Then the next day, he was the reluctant center of attention at a reunion with “his kids.”  I saw some friends this weekend that I had not seen in 20 years.  It was like old times.  They still call me “Stevie” or “Stevie C.”  Few people call me that today.  The bonds created during that short window of time in the early 90’s were absolutely amazing.  Keith was the glue that held us together.

Looking back at my experiences at Albion College, I find myself very thankful.  When City Manager Pete Auger inspires us to build a strong team at the City of Auburn Hills, I have a real life example to draw on.

When talking to folks I work closely with, the mantra that is repeated over and over again is that we need to be a “family” and that we need to take care of each other – I am molded by this unique Albion experience.  Simply, our success depends on each other.

Our little swim team achieved outstanding things, only because we worked hard and did it together.  That type of atmosphere cannot be forced on people, they have to want it.

Driving home very late Saturday night, I have to admit that I got a little emotional.  Yes, I’m man enough to admit it.  You see that place, those people, and that period of time shaped me for the better.  It was quite a blessing.