Monday, January 30, 2017

Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Steinhauser

By Kevin Steinhauser, class of 2010, Integrated Language Arts major
High School Teacher
Masters Degree from Western Governors University

Megan, Logan, and Kevin Steinhauser
As a junior in high school, I knew that I wanted to spend my career as a high school teacher; that decision was relatively easy and made with confidence. The hard part for me was the decision of WHAT to teach. I had a wide range of interests, and while I found success across the disciplines, not one content area stirred my soul more than the rest. Finally, I landed on becoming an English teacher, not so much because of my own personal love for the content but more so because I knew how important reading and writing were for every member of society. I wanted to spend my life preparing high schoolers for a successful future, and there was no denying that, as an English teacher, I would have a significant and direct impact on each of my students, regardless of their eventual profession. With this decision solidified, I anxiously declared my major, excited to take the first step toward a career in education but nervous that I had made the right content choice.

Attending Ashland University was an easy choice; the institution’s world-class education program would undoubtedly prepare me for a life in the classroom. With its focus on hands-on classroom experience, my four years in AU’s College of Education lived up to the high standard that its reputation demanded. I came to AU because of its education program, and it did not disappoint; however, I flourished because of the English Department.

After my first semester at AU, one thing became apparent: I would spend as much time in Bixler Hall as possible throughout the next four years. It was there that I learned that English was much more than reading comprehension checks and weekly vocab. quizzes. It was there that I learned the right question is often much more important than the right answer. It was there that I found my voice. It was there that I found my passion for the content that I set out to teach.

During my senior year, with a strong passion for both teaching and for English, I was fortunate to be one of the first AU students to participate in the Southern Exchange Program, where I completed my student teaching in Central Florida. Far away from home, exposed to a much more diverse student population, I realized that my career would mean much more than I had originally thought. I had not merely chosen a career in education; I had chosen a career in social justice. In Florida, the need for strong, dedicated teachers for every student was more evident than ever. Immediately after graduating from AU, I accepted a job at the “toughest,” “poorest,” and “neediest” school in the district in which I student taught.

At Poinciana High School, the work was grueling and the hours were long, but I loved every minute of the four years I spent there. I served as the Department Chair for three years and was able to teach a wide variety of English courses, including my favorite rhetoric-based course, AP Language and Composition. Living and teaching in Central Florida was an adventure, but after four years, my wife, Megan, and I decided to move to Colorado Springs where I took a job at a charter school with a similar demographic of students.

Living in Colorado Springs has brought many personal and professional blessings. In 2015, Megan and I had our first son, Logan, and we are expecting our second child in June 2017. At Atlas Preparatory School, the nearly year-round charter school where I work, I was able to be an Outdoor Education Leader in the summers of 2015 and 2016. Through this program, we exposed our students to the beauty and lessons of the natural world around them through dozens of hikes and outdoor excursions. Despite living at the foot of Pikes Peak, many of our students intentionally spent time outdoors for the first time because of this program.

Throughout the academic year, I have been given the opportunity to be the first Junior and Senior level English teacher at our growing school. As a founding teacher, I have the unique opportunity to develop curriculum for these courses. I have brought the AP Language and Composition course to my school, and I have even had the opportunities to be an AP Reader for CollegeBoard and to be an AP Consultant in Colorado Springs. Through my English courses, especially this AP course, I encourage my students to discover in my classroom all that I discovered in Bixler Hall. I challenge them to find their own voice and to spend less time searching for the right answer and more time searching for the right question. Every day, I am grateful for my Ashland University professors and classmates who challenged me to better myself; it is because of them that I can equally challenge my students.