John Stephens Retires After 54 Years at University School of Milwaukee
Stephens said it's most important to engage students, challenge them and help them learn. He says mostly, he'll miss the students and the dynamite faculty at USM.
Welcome to Names in the News, Fox Point-Bayside Patch's new weekly column, where we introduce you to a local face.
This week, we're sitting down with John Stephens (JS), a 54-year teaching veteran at University School of Milwaukee and a Fox Point native, who's decided it's time to retire.
Patch: What do you like most about the North Shore?
JS: I moved to Fox Point with my family in 1965 and have always loved it. It’s close towork and has all of the amenities you could want. And it’s right on the lake. What more could you ask for?
Patch: What community and civic organizations are you currently involved in?
JS: I like to stay active at my church, North Shore Presbyterian. I really enjoy it there, my wife is in the choir, and the people are great. Otherwise, the School has been where I have been the most involved.
Patch: What drew you to becoming a teacher and what do you find most interestingabout the work you do?
JS: I went to graduate school at Harvard, and a professor by the name of Don Oliver impressed something on me that I have always remembered. He said you always have to think about how to engage students in what you teach. Challenge the way they think to help them learn. Bring the material to them and make them react. You have to find a way to relate the material to students so you connect with them.
I have enjoyed being involved in school life ― inside and outside of the classroom. I used to coach and try to be at games and events as much as possible.
Patch: What personal and professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
JS: I’m most proud of how many students I’ve seen take an interest in economics and history, especially the girls. When I first started teaching, no girls were interested in these subjects, and now I have former students who have gone on to major positions in those fields.
Patch: What person—professionally or personally—do you most admire?
JS: I would say someone like (historian) Richard Hofstadter. I really enjoyed using and teaching his material.
Patch: What are key ways other people can make a difference locally?
JS: I think that it is important to work closely with students and the community and to let people know that you care.
Patch: What will you miss most about teaching at USM?
JS: Two things — I’ll miss all of the students and the chance to work with this faculty. They are dynamite and they really do a great job. I’m going to miss them.