Brian C. Steele
Head of Kalamazoo Country Day School
Dear KCDS Friends and Family,
I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1981 with a Bachelors of Science in Geology and Engineering. Upon completion of this degree, I was hired by the Western Geophysical Corporation of America as a Seismic Velocity Analyst in Western’s Offshore Exploration Division. While leading Western Geophysical’s California team, we located the largest natural gas deposit at that time off the coast of California. After eighteen months in seismic analysis, I transferred into Western Geophysical’s Research and Development division.
In the summer of 1983, the global oil markets crashed and I accepted an offer from the prestigious Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas. The Kinkaid School hired me to develop the school’s Earth Science curriculum, teach middle school science, and coach a variety of varsity sports. I worked closely with the existing faculty to develop Kincaid’s Middle School Earth, Life, and Physical Science curricula. While at the Kinkaid School, I completed and MEd at the University of Houston, specializing in science and computer education. In 1986, I was a finalist for the Department of Education’s Graduate Student of the Year Award and was awarded runner up.
In 1986, I returned north and was hired by Kalamazoo Academy (KA), now Kalamazoo Country Day School (KCDS), to create the school’s math and science curriculum and to teach middle school math and science. Since 1987, I have taught every math and science class at KA/KCDS until my retirement in June of 2015. During my tenure at KA/KCDS, I was awarded seventeen Kalamazoo County Significant Educator Awards, ten International Baccalaureate Educator of Distinction Awards, and a Michigan State University Award of Excellence. I have also been listed in the Who’s Who of Education numerous times. In 1988, I received an Excellence in Education Incentive Grant to photograph the Sonoran Desert and created a curricular unit on the unique geology of Arizona.
I also held a position as an adjunct faculty member at the Mallinson Institute for Science Education within the Western Michigan University School of Education. I taught numerous classes on how to utilize lab-based science classes to elementary education majors within Western Michigan’s Department of Education.
Over the past thirty years I served on twelve ISACS’s visiting accreditation evaluation teams across the Midwest, evaluating curricula in math, science, and computer science. I also chaired three KA/KCDS ISACS self-studies and assisted the visiting teams in their evaluations.
I served on the Board of Directors at Western Michigan University’s United Campus Ministries, Community Homework’s, and Kalamazoo Country Day School. While serving I was able to evaluate the financial position of each non-profit and create solutions for improvement.
When asked about my success at an educator, I am often asked about my philosophy on education. My response is neither administrative nor scientific; it is much more emotional for me. Education is about empathy and viewing each child before you as the most important person for that moment. A great educator has to care deeply about the uniqueness of each child and care to affect that child’s ability to learn. If an educator truly cares for that child’s understanding, they will search out and utilize whatever educational techniques and curricula that will best meet the needs of that child A Head of School’s greatest responsibility is to choose and foster a staff that believes in each child. If the Head of School supports a staff that believes in the value of each child, that staff will generate an environment were every child will have the ability to be successful.
I also firmly believe that each child’s uniqueness requires an attitude that a “one size fits all” approach will never generate an experience that elevates each child. One philosophical belief that KA/KCDS always held as a foundational tenant was that the delivery of knowledge must be malleable enough to assist each child in comprehending each concept. As Head of School I would continue to foster new ideas, implement creative solutions, and foster a culture of caring for each child’s unique educational requirements.
After years of teaching, I believe that no one understands a child better than his or her parents. Parents can provide insights into a child’s life and learning style that teachers may never become aware of while teaching. Teachers should always be exceptionally accepting of information presented by parents on how to best work with their child. Fostering a culture of trust and understanding between parents and staff is paramount in a successful school. Maintaining active lines of positive communication between parents, administration, teachers, and staff would continue to be a goal of mine as KA/KCDS’s Head of School.
In thirty-four years of teaching I have experienced the continuous evolution of curricula, teaching techniques, technology in the classroom, and educational standards. All are very important and necessary for an ever-changing world, but I will always place a teacher’s strong desire to help a child grow as the ultimate condition for success. I will always care greatly for all of the children in my charge and will create a school climate that will allow every person, adult and child, to grow and develop into the best possible person.
Brian C Steele
Head of Kalamazoo Country Day School