Adams encourages Osage students to find their path to success

Joyce Miller
newsroom@lakesunonline.com

The Future Depends on Teachers

One year ago, the unthinkable happened — our nation’s schools had to shut their doors. The COVID-19 pandemic hit our K-12 teachers hard. Yet despite incredible challenges, our teachers are innovating and rising to meet this new reality head-on. One of the lessons that really hit home as a result of the pandemic was how critical teachers are to our educational and economic recovery.

Missouri is facing an historic shortage of teachers, which may be compounded by the pandemic. Our schools are struggling to find enough teachers to fill their classrooms. In the 2019-20 school year, there were just over 6,200 open teaching positions in Missouri. Of those positions, 145 remained unfilled and 308 positions were filled with inadequately qualified teachers. Educator preparation programs at institutions of higher education, with a decline of over 25 percent in teacher candidate enrollment over the past six years, are not producing enough new teachers to fill our classrooms.

Over the course of this week, the Lake Sun will feature stories of teachers around the lake and the importance they hold within their districts.

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Steve Adams.

After spending 14 years in the classroom and 11 years in student ministry, School of the Osage Middle School teacher Steve Adams is not just a teacher, he is an advocate for his students. 

Adams guides his students through middle school teaching math concepts and encouraging students to find their path to success. He provides guidance and his own set of rules to teach.  At the start of every school year, Adams introduces students to his pledge, his promise to them to treat them with respect, own his mistakes, and be a good listener. He promises to respect each student's voice and to always continue learning right alongside them. 

Every week, Adams shares a quote he first heard from another education… ‘I firmly believe all my students will succeed if they work long enough and hard enough.’ That quote seems to define Adam’s teaching creed. He feels most successful when he convinces students that he respects and cares about them. That requires, he said, caring about more than just a student’s success in his classroom. It requires caring about the whole person. 

“I want my students to know I am on this journey with them.  My position of authority as a teacher does not make me better than them.  I am a student as well, growing and learning as I challenge them to grow and learn,” Adams said. 

“It is a difficult world to navigate in the best of circumstances. I want to help students find their unique path to success,” Adams said. “Our school’s mission captures what I most enjoy about teaching…’School of the Osage, in partnership with our students family and community will equip all learners to meet their maximum potential for a lifetime of success.’ I love helping students discover and realize their potential. I enjoy helping students take ownership of their learning and growth. I love it when students make the connection between their hard work, determination, and success.”

 When Adams steps away from his role as teacher and advocate, his family keeps him busy. His wife also works at School of the Osage as an office administrator at the high school. His two youngest children are in high school and elementary school at Osage while his two oldest have graduated and are attending college. 

“I enjoy outdoor adventures with my kids including, hiking, biking, camping, and float trips.  I like to sing and play guitar.  I lead music at our church.  My summer job is washing windows,” he said. “I taught social studies for seven years right after college.  I stepped out of public education for eleven years to work in student ministry.  This is my seventh year back in public education.”  

His advice to graduates considering education as a career is to remember, the first years are the most challenging. 

“I might have taken the exit ramp halfway through my first year if it was offered. Persevere. The greatest rewards in teaching come with experience and longevity. The key to being an effective teacher is figuring out who you are and what kind of teacher you aspire to be. Seek out teachers who demonstrate the qualities you admire and learn everything you can from them, “ Adams recommends.  

For Adams, the decision to teach, to make a difference goes back to his years in middle school and the adults in his life who left a lasting impression. Those middle school years were pivotal in his life, he said. 

His parents divorced when he was in seventh grade, sending him into a “bit of a tailspin. I was a mess” he said. “I will always be grateful for the adults in my life who loved me and helped me navigate those difficult years. I hope that I can be that adult for some of my students.” 

Adams has been nominated for Regional Teacher of the Year. Something he said he struggles with and doesn’t quite understand. He said he is surrounded by others he views as examples of greatness. Other teachers, counselors, support staff and administrators are making a difference. 

 “I  struggle to understand why I deserve to be recognized any more than the other educators in my district.   The truth is, I do not.  The only way I can make sense of being nominated as an educator of the year is to view it as something larger than myself.  I view this an opportunity to draw attention to the great educators around me,” Adams said.  “I am a product of School of the Osage.  I am grateful to be surrounded by professional educators who demonstrate greatness each day.  I am made better by the example, dedication, and passion of the educators with whom I have the privilege to work.”