Teacher retires after decades of service

Talk about timing. There is a lot of truth to the saying, “Being in the right place at the right time.”

Flashing back nearly 30 years to 1983, Steve Schuler, 56, was attending the Auglaize County Fair with his wife, Janet Schuler, after having just returned from college at Kent State.

Wapakoneta City Schools Principal Don Numbers also happened to be in attendance that day.

“He saw me and said, ‘Hey Schuler what are you doing now?’ ” retiring teacher Steve Schuler said. “I need an art teacher at Northridge.”

Schuler took the opening. It turned into a long career at Wapakoneta for the art teacher. Schuler also served with technology support in his 29 years of service to the school district.

The fateful day led to a rewarding career for Schuler.

”I’ve worked with such wonderful people,” Schuler said. “Wapakoneta was a great place to get to know children and their parents. It was a great privilege.”

Schuler is a lifelong resident and graduated from Wapakoneta High School in 1973. His parents, Joyce and Dudley Schuler, owned a flower shop and bridal store in the downtown area. He has two sons, Elliott, 20, who is in his third year of studies at Point Park University in Pittsburgh studying musical theater, and Andy, 27, who works in Los Angeles. Andy is getting married this Friday.

“So my retirement is not the big news in the family right now,” Schuler said with a laugh.

Before that day at the fair, Schuler had been torn between which direction he wanted to go career-wise. He earned a graphics design degree at Kent State University, and he had focused in the areas of art and film.

“He developed plenty of knowledge in the area of international independent and experimental films, the kinds that are popular at film festivals. After teaching in the Wapakoneta and St. Marys school districts for a short time, he and his wife returned to Kent. Schuler earned his master’s degree while teaching drawing and film making at the university and had considered a career of teaching at the university level.

However, Schuler’s grandfather became ill and the couple returned to the area. A part-time position came open at Blume Middle School, and Schuler took it. They also opened a video rental store in town.

“Before we knew it we were engraved into the community,” Schuler said.

Schuler has been instrumental in the technological development at the school over the years, and often incorporated his knowledge of technology with his art classes.

He said technology has come a long way since then.

“Kids today couldn’t imagine taking a class on learning how to use a window or how to use a keyboard,” Schuler said.

Schuler has offered lots of training throughout the years to teachers and how to incorporate technology into their lesson plans. He says technology has been a positive influence on education.

“It cuts out the middle man in learning,” Schuler said. “It can be very exciting for the students.”

As for now, Schuler said he is going to see where the road takes him.

“It just so happens that when it gets to the time of the year when a teacher has a little flexibility in their schedule in the summer, it would be my wife’s busy time of the year at her job,” Schuler said. “This will give us some time. I am a hobbyist and collector and I have some interest in doing some things there. But I’m only 56, so I hope I am not one yet. We will see what happens.”

Two other Wapakoneta teachers that retired this year, Paula Quatman and Melanie Webb, were in Schuler’s graduating class in 1973.