“Life comes down to a few moments, and this was one of them. A turning point, a crossroads. On a lonely stretch of State Road 66, near Evansville, Indiana, it hit me right between the eyes. A recognition of the facts…if I didn’t leave the State Police right now, I probably never would. A year-and-a-half is normally not enough time to test a career choice, but in this case, it would have to suffice.”

Mitchell Steckler, a member from the Iota-Epsilon chapter at Indiana State University, had a choice to make. Would he continue with his responsibilities to the Indiana State Police or chase a passion which had been building in him for quite some time: teaching. After careful consideration, he knew he had to take a chance, and so began a 33-year love affair with education.

Through the years, Steckler shared his love of history, economics, and current affairs with student after student. Some of the most rewarding points in his life came from watching his students succeed, something he would not trade for the world.

“Some of the most satisfying times I’ve had teaching is taking a kid who was thinking about quitting school, struggling, and all of a sudden, he realizes he really likes your class, and he gets fired up, and he wants to stay in school, receiving his diploma,” said Steckler.

As Steckler reached the end of his teaching career, though, another passion began to burn inside him, the urge to recount his experiences in the schools and beyond. So, a few years before he retired, Steckler decided the time was right to, well, write.

Steckler’s book was published in December of 2017, and he is currently working on a second rewrite. Photo courtesy of Mitchell Steckler.

“A few years before I retired, I decided I was going to write a book,” said Steckler. “And I’ve always been the kind of person that when I set a goal, I’m going to do it.”

Prior to the decision to write a book, Steckler had always enjoyed writing, often contributing articles for Motorcycle Magazine and Ryder Magazine. Steckler began the process after his retirement from teaching, and within two years, The Education of a Teacher: Lessons Learned from 33 Years in the Trenches was born.

Steckler touches on everything from his own education growing up to some hot button issues in the educational world, such as charter schools and vouchers. The book also offers a close-up look at the motivations of teachers, administrators, students, and parents and what works well/doesn’t in the current system.

The seasoned educator explains that the title came from the idea that even as a teacher, he was still learning new things and how to effectively reach his students.

“My education from K-12 and in college was part of my education to teach and then for 33 years, I taught school, and I learned something new every day,” said Steckler.

While the process was grueling at times, battling writer’s block and finding the right words to express his ideas, Steckler says the most rewarding part of the experience has been the immense positive feedback he has received.

Looking forward, Steckler says he is eager to publish a second rewrite, where he will add about 25 more pages and dive more into issues surrounding the education system.

“All teachers should take comfort in a wondrous fact: they are the leaders of the world’s best profession,” says Stecker in his book. “Education is likely the most challenging and rewarding occupation society has to offer. It provides the ultimate opportunity: to make a significant, positive impact on the lives of our youth.”

To learn more about The Education of a Teacher: Lessons Learned from 33 Years in the Trenches, click here.

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