For some people, finding an ideal career is a long journey. Not so for Kristin Steenhoek, who teaches in the reading lab at Waukee’s Maple Grove Elementary School.
When asked about her career choice, Steenhoek says, “I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher.” Steenhoek, who spends her days providing extra reading help to small groups of students, grew up babysitting and helping in preschools and children’s Bible School programs.
Her passion for teaching has not gone unnoticed. Laura Smith, who nominated Kristin as one of Waukee’s favorite teachers, describes Steenhoek as one who “goes above and beyond every day” in the classroom.
Steenhoek says one of the best parts of her job is being able to focus on one content area with her students. She takes three students into her classroom for twenty minutes at a time, working with a total of around 30 students by the end of the day. While in her classroom, the students complete learning exercise designed to help them find patterns in words and boost reading comprehension. According to Smith, Steenhoek finds out how each individual child learns best and then helps parents continue the learning process at home. Smith credits this “team effort” approach for the success her own son achieved over the months he spent participating in the reading lab.
When she’s not in the classroom, Steenhoek is spending time with her husband, Jeff, and their two sons, Ethan, 7, and Cael, 3, at their home in Waukee. With two little guys at home, Steenhoek says, “I am doing all things ‘boy’ around here,” which includes lots of outdoor activities like baseball, basketball, and riding bikes.
As a teacher, Steenhoek finds motivation in her students’ excitement to learn. “When you work with kids, especially little kids, every day is kind of a new day. For those kids that might be struggling with one thing one day, the next day they come in and they’re fresh and they’re excited to try it again.”
She also enjoys seeing the progress of her students. “With every little step they make, with every goal they achieve, they’re excited. They’re little sponges—they want to learn more and more all the time. It’s a lot of fun.”
Know an outstanding teacher in the Waukee School District? Nominate them!