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How elementary school day-dreams become reality

Ta'Leah Van Sistine, Managing Editor

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For over eight years Cloe Steffel has had the same response to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

She confessed, “ … ever since I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher.”

By seventh grade, Steffel began teaching younger kids, and by the next year, she was leading her own program at her karate studio. There, she instructed three and four year olds on basic karate techniques, but her lessons expanded beyond that.

“I also taught them the skills they’ll need to know for life, like teamwork and focus.”

Such leadership has not gone unnoticed by those who surround Steffel, and it has allowed them to envision her as the teacher that she desires to become.

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I asked Steffel’s close friend, Juliette Weslow, and one of her karate instructors, Mike Romes the same question: “How have you seen Chloe developing or demonstrating the qualities of a teacher or leader?” Their responses were confident, spoken in tones that are often found with those who have witnessed a transformation of self.  

“I could see Chloe as a teacher 110%,” said Weslow. “She has great patience with kids and has a way of explaining things that just makes sense. I had the privilege to teach at the karate studio with her, and the kids always loved her. I saw her develop from a shy girl, to a confident, determined individual.”

As a teacher himself, Romes explained how Steffel portrays the essential characteristics to fill that role.

“I am a consensus leader so I look for that leadership style in people that I consider good leaders. …  The number one thing that she has is the willingness to listen. That skill, above all others, along with her compassion, will serve her and her pupils well. She will be able to reach the disenfranchised as well as those in the mainstream, understand both sets of needs, and have the compassion to react in the best interest of both groups. She is also willing to attempt new things and work outside the norm: two traits that will benefit her future classes.”

What was also revealed in Weslow and Romes’ responses was how Steffel adheres to the art of determination, her focus and persistence carrying her to the finishing line.

Weslow reiterated, “Chloe is very goal oriented. When she wants something done, she’ll get it done. She’s a leader and has always kept me in line.”

Similarly, Romes observes, “She always has other people’s interests in mind and seeks to help those she feels are in need.”

The formation of a future educator begins to take shape. Chloe Steffel, composed of compassion, determination, and the ability to lead, has support from those who foresee how that little girl in elementary school, who aspired to be a teacher, has continued to seek that destiny.  

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In returning to the interview with Chloe, those same assured and hopeful qualities, with a touch of influence, reaffirms what Weslow and Romes have noted about her. She had previously explained that she wants to be a kindergarten teacher, and that because she enjoys working with children, she diligently pursued a job at a daycare.

“I kept applying for other jobs over the summer, and no one was replying back to me, so I sent a mass email out to all the daycares saying ‘Hey I know I don’t have a degree or anything, but I have lots of teaching experience.’ And then I sent them my resume.”

She admits the honest truth while also acknowledging, “I may not have the official college stamp of approval, but I know what I am doing.” Steffel got the job.

One of the final questions that I asked her confirmed, in her own words, how her dream career in elementary school remained, even when, for other children, those fantasies so often fade away as they grow into adults.

“What advice would you give to underclassmen?” I asked.

“Just work hard, and know that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Because things may seem hard, but if you really work hard enough to get through it, it’ll pay off.”

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