Freestyle-rapping teacher

Steven Woolery watches with an unmistakable pride from behind the glass as early 19th-century England comes to life on the stage. His students are performing Jane Austen’s masterpiece Pride and Prejudice , and from his vantage point in the lighting booth at the back of the auditorium, the production is going flawlessly. Woolery’s twelve-year-old daughter, Hannah, watches with him, and whenever she asks a question about the plot, he leans down to her and explains the answer in full detail. Finally, the play comes to a rapturous finish and Woolery steps outside into the applauding audience. "Wonderful, wonderful," Woolery exclaims as he gives the cast a standing ovation. "Great, great job." It is Woolery’s first production at Ames High, his first chance to show the school what he can do. Or, as he would rather have it, what he can help the students to do. "This has been a great experience for me because I have had the chance to work with a talented cast that is not afraid to perform to their fullest extent and a crew that is independent, intelligent and knows what they’re doing," he said. Steven Woolery was born in Webster City, Iowa. Growing up, he read the works of Edgar Allan Poe and James Hearse, and decided on a career in English. Over two decades, Woolery improved his teaching skills while teaching at smaller high schools – Klemme, Woodbine, and Pella. However, as his parents, still in Webster City, aged and he felt the urge to teach at a larger school, Woolery began to look around for other teaching opportunities. A "great opportunity" to teach in Ames came up at the right time. And so, he set out for Ames, bringing with him his family: Lorrie, his wife; and children Hannah, 12; and Dana, 8. In addition to being the drama director and auditorium manager, Woolery teaches Perspectives in Literature, English 9 Speech, and Dramatic Arts classes. Although he is "enjoying the opportunity to teach theatre classes for the first time in 18 years," he "is truly grateful for the great students and welcoming staff, especially the English department and the administration for hiring me." He has already made a good impression on his students. "Mr. Woolery is really cool," said junior Greg Wheelock, who worked on the stage crew for Pride and Prejudice. "I’m constantly in awe of him." "He brings this amazing energy to class every day," said junior Ari Mendoza, who takes both Perspectives in Literature and Drama from him. "It’s easy to see how dedicated he is." When Woolery steps in front of his students each class period, what he really tries to do is make the lesson relevant to them. "If they don’t make a connection to the subject, [the lesson] doesn’t work," he said. Doing this for each student, he believes, has grown more difficult throughout his teaching career. My greatest challenge as a teacher is trying to meet everybody’s needs," said Woolery. "Classes have become more varied, and so I need to teach a variety of subjects to meet each student’s needs." Another aspect of Woolery’s personality is his eccentric interests and talents. "The freestyle rapping is something I just picked up off of acting," laughed Woolery. "I like drumming, but I have no formal skills. I really love cooking, poetry, book collecting, cycling, and the blues." As Woolery looks towards the future, he wants to grow along with his students. As the drama director, he aims to "consistently present quality, challenging material." And as a teacher, he said, "I want to share my love of literature and writing and passion for teaching with the students, and hopefully affect somebody’s life."