The aspect of teaching that most motivates me is not a particular subject, but observing how much happier and capable students become as they develop their ability to think clearly.”

Kyle Steele

Vice Principal

History, Art Appreciation & Math
VDA Teacher since 2007

Tell me a little about your personal and educational background.

I grew up in rural Michigan. As a child, I moved around a bit and tried lots of different schools: homeschools, private schools, public schools, and boarding schools. I like the perspective this has given me on different modes of education. In college, I studied political theory, and I was on my way to graduate school at Boston College before taking a job at VDA.

When and why did you decide to become a teacher?

I was getting ready for graduate school and reflecting on why I wanted to be a professor. I realized I wasn't excited about publish-or-perish research, I didn't care for academic administrative work, and all I really wanted to do was teach. When I saw an advertisement for a receptionist job at this school I had admired for years, I put my graduate plans on hold and came to work for a year. I've never looked back.

If you specialize in a particular subject area, why did you choose that specialty?

I teach a diverse set of subjects: history, art appreciation, and math. These are the subjects I personally respond to the most. I guess you could say I'm at war with American (and especially Orange County) hedonistic materialism. I want students to realize there is more in this world to value than flashy, shiny things and fleeting, momentary pleasures. I want them to discover what humans are capable of. Secondarily, but also important, I like the mental discipline and logic that art appreciation and math require. I like subjects where students can only be successful if they are completely focused.

What brought you to VanDamme Academy?

I was attracted to VanDamme Academy by Miss VanDamme’s articles. I actually got teary-eyed when I read her article “The Hierarchy of Knowledge: The Most Neglected Issue in Education.” I wished so badly that I could have had that education.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I play a lot of very complicated board and card games. My favorite is called Magic: the Gathering. I'm always looking for plays, musicals and art exhibits in the area. I have a goal to see every Shakespeare play on stage before I die. So far, I've seen fourteen out of thirty-eight

Do you have any favorite stories about your teaching experience?

My favorite story from recent memory comes from June 2016. The whole school was gathered in the banquet hall signing yearbooks. One of my 4th grade students, instead of wishing me a happy summer and signing his name, drew me a flow chart detailing the development of technologies in the Industrial Revolution and the prosperity they made possible. That kid really knew how to tug at my heartstrings.