CHILLICOTHE For the past 30 years, one Chillicothe City Schools teacher has worked to make learning fun by highlighting the intersections of math, science, reading, and art.
Since 1991, Steve Maybriar has made it his mission to show students that practical and artistic subjects can coexist.He's gained areputation as an energetic educator who tricks kids into thinking learning is fun and is well respected amongst students and staff. The love for his career could have kept him going for another decade, but after 30 years with the district,Maybriar is retiring.
"The decision was hard. I never hated a day," he said. "But the timing was right; even though I hated leaving the kids. When school starts in the fall, I'll be worried about my little darlings."
A native of Kentucky, Maybriar was driven by academics and even joined his high school's chess club. Though he always loved math and science, Maybriar was drawn to the field of art and liked to draw. He planned to study medicine at the University of Kentucky but ultimately decided to become an art major atMoorehead State University.Later, he earned a teaching degree from Ohio University in Athens.
As a college student, Maybriar met his late wife Kathy and they moved to Chillicothe to be closer to her parents. He was hired by the Chillicothe City School Districtin 1991 and quickly fell in love with the community. Over the years, Maybriar has taught math, science and reading to elementary school students but his most recent position was teaching art at the Chillicothe Intermediate School.
To help students succeed, Maybriar determinedwhich subjects are the most challenging and found ways to integrate art into the lessons. In math, students are able to learn shapes and patterns by creating them themselves and in social studies, students understand geography by drawing maps of their own.
One of the kids' favorite lessons occurs when they're studying animals.Maybriar created a coloring book for students complete with sketches of their favorite SpongeBob characters and a dissected view. It's a great way for the students to understand and explore biology through already familiar ideas.
"The kids don't even know they're learning. It's like hiding spinach in their lunch" he joked.
But Maybriar's talent as an artist or leading the classroom isn't what makes him a legendary educator. ForChillicothe Intermediate School Principal Joshua Tripp and assistant principal Katrena Corbett it's his uncanny ability to make overlooked students feel seen even if it's just for a class.
Whether it's taking the time to teach next to or eat lunch with a student, Maybriar has made it his personal mission to find and help youth in need. He strives to meet kids where they're at and does anything he can to help someone make a friend.
His soft spot for the seemingly troubled kid stems from his own experiences as a student. Too often, he felt he was smarter than his peers and teachers which led him to feel frustrated. With just one year left of high school, he dropped out. Though he later went back to pursue college, it shifted Maybriar's outlook.
"I've always felt that no one is stupid and I've never met an idiot. Everyone has their own strengths," he said.
That's why as an educator, he worked to help kids find theirs sometimes going above and beyond.Though he had 820 kids pass through his room each week, Maybriar always tried to remember little snippets of each individual.
One of the most memorable students Maybriar taughtwas a fifth-grader who worked through the entire science textbook by the third week of class. Maybriar remembers thinking to himself that the youngster probably knew more about the subject than he did but rather than let the student be idle, Maybriar searched for him.He reached out to Ohio University Chillicothe and was able to enroll the student in one of the courses to further the student's drive.Today he's a neurosurgeon.
Over the years, Maybriar has acquired letters from former students and even gone on to attend their weddings but the messages that always mean the most to him are the ones that say, "you listened."
When looking back at his tenure, Maybriar said that in general things aren't much different.While technology has advanced and the amount of information available to students has increased, overall the kids are the same. He said, "It's us who's changed."
Maybriar also enjoyed when he was able to move from the classroom to the artroom specifically because it was less focused on testing and more about the individual student.
In retirement, Maybriar plans to spend time with his wife, Sue,traveling and will even earn his SCUBA certificate. During his free time, he's looking forward to collecting fossils, creating art and spending time with family.
"I'm so proud of this district and the kids who are so willing to learn," Maybriar said. "I've never had a bad student. It's been a pleasure watching these kids grow."
Have a story tip or comment?Contact Toria at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-349-1106. Follow her onTwitter @ToriaBarnhart.
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