Getting to know our teachers — Steve Wilcken

-Submitted photo Steven Wilcken, a math teacher at Fort Dodge Senior High, stands near a student in his class recently.


Where do you teach?

Fort Dodge Senior High

What grade/subject do you teach?

High School math — primarily Algebra II, Iowa Central statistics and Iowa Central calculus

Why do you teach?

I wanted a career where I could spend my time interacting with others. I enjoy sharing what I know, and it is so satisfying to watch another person understand something they were struggling with. Seeing the excitement of one student who “gets it” is meaningful to me. I am always looking for something new to learn, and I enjoy being part of that process in others.

What is your favorite part of the school day?

Any time I am working with students who are actively involved in learning. This could be in class, or outside of class when they come in for help.

What are you working hardest on right now?

Working on ways to best teach my students while dealing with social distancing and virtual/hybrid learning. I am always looking for new ways to get students involved and interacting with each other, which is a great way to learn. A lot of this has to be rethought and revamped as we look into online groups and meetings, and limiting clusters of students working around one paper or board.

What are you most proud of as a teacher?

I am most proud when I meet a student outside of school, or years after they graduate, and they remember me fondly. I can see that I have made a difference in a student’s life.

What makes you happiest as a teacher?

It makes my day when someone, a student or a fellow worker, gets that excitement and joy of learning something new that I have helped them with.

How do you contribute to/how are you involved in our community outside of school?

I live in Nevada and am heavily involved in my church in Ames, where I work with the Sunday school and the music program. I play with the bell choir, sing with the parish choir, play and sing with the Praise Team, and am part of a Men’s Quartet. During this past year, my wife and I have been leading the hymns and providing special music for our live stream church services.

What are your interests/hobbies outside of school?

Music is obviously a big interest. Besides singing, I play guitar, ukulele (soprano, ubase and banjolele) as well as keep up the Wilcken Songbook. I also crochet small animals and other critters.

What do you wish your students/families knew about you?

I have been driving up from the Ames area for 20 years to teach in Fort Dodge. I often get asked why I do this. This is the third school I have taught at, and I have made it my home because of the community. I find the students and the families I work with here welcoming. The parents I work with care about their children and want to help me help their children grow. The students, even the ones who are forced to take a math class that they hate, are respectful and fun to work with. It is a great school in a great community.

What does Together We Rise mean to you?

No one can make it totally on their own. We all need others to help us achieve greatness.


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