I wanted to instill this same love of learning in students of my own, who deserve to have much better than I had.”

Grace Steele

VDA Teacher Since 2015

Personal and Educational background:
I am a Southern Californian, born and raised. I graduated from nearby Aliso Niguel High School. Throughout high school and a bit of college, I spent a lot of time participating in school plays and musicals, and also received private lessons in acting while taking classes at a local theater. I got my degree in history from Arizona State University.

When and why did you decide to become a teacher?
At first, like many young girls, I wanted to be a teacher because I admired my own teacher in elementary school. Some years later, after exploring many different options in college, I came back to teaching when I finally decided on my major. As I journeyed through my required history and English courses, I became frustrated with the way I was being taught. It seemed as though I was expected to draw conclusions that didn’t make sense, and as though the grade I received in the class was not a result of how well I understood the material, but of how many hours I spent memorizing words from a textbook. I felt that the subjects I was studying were deeply important, and that they could increase my enjoyment of life so much more if I had a better understanding of them. These convictions led me to decide that I wanted to instill this same love of learning in students of my own, who deserve to have much better than I had. 

If you specialize in a particular subject area, why did you choose that specialty?
Ever since I can remember, I have loved stories. As a child, I devoured any story I could get my hands on. When we ran out of books to read at home, my parents told me stories about their childhoods. When they ran out of stories, they made some up. Then, I found that I had an endless supply of stories when I turned to the subject of history.  My love for the subject was ignited very early, and I have never lost interest. So, specializing in history and literature seemed like obvious choices when I was analyzing my options in college. 

What brought you to VanDamme Academy?
I have been a fan of the school for quite some time, and was lucky enough to meet a few members of the VanDamme Academy faculty while working as a cashier at a local bookstore. These encounters were extremely exciting to me, since I longed to learn more about the school. Mr. Lewis eventually brought me in for a tour, which allowed me to see first-hand what children are capable of when they are armed with a quality education and a passion for learning. The one thought I kept returning to the whole day I sat in on VanDamme Academy classes was, “I never want to leave!” When I heard about a possible employment opportunity with the school, I immediately jumped on it—and now I get to be here every day! 

What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I read as much as I can. I love all kinds of books, but my real loves are poetry and classic literature. I collect beautiful editions of my favorite books—I own six different versions of Jane Eyre. I also really like finding new and different food to try (the spicier the better), playing with my cats, and playing board games with friends.