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7 Questions with Steven Doepker

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Jonno White

7 Questions with Steven Doepker

Name: Steven Doepker

Current title: Director of College and Career Readiness

Current organisation: Region 8 ESC Fort Wayne Indiana

I was a teacher at St Vincent Grade School in 1968 In 1972 I became Principal. I was principal until 1983. I became Assistant Principal Academic at Bishop Dwenger High School. I left Catholic Education to become a principal in the public system for the next 18 years. In 2008 I started a consulting firm that worked with both Catholic and Public Schools. Presently, I work as a College and Career Specialist with the Olin and Desta Schwab Foundation of Fort Wayne Indiana.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?

Being able to provide my family with a decent living standard while in the Christian environment. Maslow's hierarchy is true in society and it is true in the school environment. The financial sacrifices Christian Educators make is very real.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I was fortunate to have great assistance in my work. I always went to work early before the kids or teachers were there. I did my "clerical" tasks at that time with little distractions. When the students and teachers arrived it was free to be present on the school day. It was important to be there at games, performances, and activities after school time was over. Being a principal is a twelve to fourteen hour a day experience

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

I have learned how important it is to be visible. Also when being an instructional leader it is imperative to have a clear vision of the direction you are asking people to take. Moving toward the vision in a step by step process is imperative.

4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Books authored by Richard DuFour have impacted me greatly. His approach to education changes the focus from the needs of the adults to the needs of the children. The messages over the past 40 years have not changed much. From Glasser to the present becoming more child-centered is the main paradigm change necessary for success.

5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?

Great Christian Teachers are intrinsically motivated to the cause of Christian Education. When the interview process happens it is not difficult to spot those teachers who are motivated by a love of the Creator. Helping them grow in their faith, giving them opportunities to help me grow in my own faith builds a community of believers that becomes pretty solid. There is a group of us that to this day still meets monthly after not being together in the classroom for over 30 years!

6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

Let me list a few: 1. Be present as much as possible in the building. Visit classrooms, get to know the students by name, worship with the whole community. 2. Have one on one talks with the students. Spend time individually with the oldest students in the building before they leave your care. 3. Recognize the face of Jesus in every person you encounter in your day. Be aware of His presence and show that you know He is there with you. 4. Worship with the community on a regular basis. 5. Start every day personally giving your work for that day to the honor and glory of God.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a Christian school leader so far?

During my time at the high school level, I was privileged to be among some of the most dedicated and faith-filled people I have encountered in my life. On top of that, they were funny. We would gather during the day be it lunch, before school, or after school, it was just nothing but fun. We laughed and laughed together. Sometimes, I would laugh so much that the back of my neck would hurt. Every day ended with the joyful noise of laughter. No matter what the challenges that faced us, we loved and respected each other as people with a common mission--and lots of different ways (many times funny ways)to achieve that mission