CHS speech teacher to retire

Friday, February 8, 2013

After an 18-year career at the Cassville R-4 School District that included teaching middle and high school speech and debate and history, Steve Mann will retire at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

"I have had fantastic administrative support in everything I have done at Cassville," said Mann. "I've been able to create some progressive classes, some which are still offered today. I have never approached a principal or superintendent and received a negative response. It has always been, 'Yes. Let's try it.'

"The administrators at Cassville listen," continued Mann. "Their doors are always open, and they have always got a minute. They will also give you their honest opinion."

Mann completed his undergraduate degree at Southwest Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla.

"I began as a political science major and four years later I ended with a degree in governmental studies and speech and theater and a minor in psychology," said Mann. "I met my wife at the college, and we finished our undergraduate degrees living in married student housing, which was an old army barrack."

Later, Mann earned his master's degree in education from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kan.

"My first job was supposed to be practice teaching," said Mann. "The teacher I was working under quit and the district offered me the remainder of the contract. I did not have a clue, but my education counselor from college suggested I sign.

"I learned what works and what doesn't work real quickly," added Mann.

After spending his first year teaching in Kansas City, Mann secured his second job teaching at an inner city school in Kansas City, Kan. Then, he entered the private sector for the next 12 plus years. He taught summer school classes in the public school system during that time.

After Mann and his wife, Marilyn, decided they wanted their children in a smaller community, Marilyn secured a teaching job in the Monett School District and the family relocated to Barry County in the mid-1990s.

"I came to Cassville when the high school building was brand new," said Mann. "In fact they were still working on my classroom. I worked for Ron Richardson at the high school and Jim Orrell at the middle school. I have taught at the high school and middle school every year since I've been here until last year."

Mann served as Glenda Ward's assistant speech and debate coach. In that position, he organized a middle school speech team and expanded the middle school speech class from one semester to a full year course.

"We started a tournament, and the team was competing in four or five tournaments each year, which is incredible for a middle school speech team," said Mann. "I am very proud of being able to expand that program and work with the same kids throughout the year. They became a true team."

During his time at Cassville, Mann also had the opportunity to implement several new courses, including a Civil War course and a course that offered information on the history of the American cowboy. He also transformed the district's American government class into one that centered on the study of the United States Constitution.

"A teacher has to realize that each child learns differently," said Mann. "As a teacher, it is your job to exhaust all possibilities to teach kids. If you have 30 kids in a classroom, you may have to develop 30 ways to teach your lesson.

"It's also important to remember that the impression you make on students, whether they are freshmen or seniors, can last an eternity," continued Mann. "If you pass on something positive then their kids will likely love school, but if you pass on something negative, later you could have kids who believe school is worthless."

Even though Mann is sad to leave his teaching career at Cassville behind, he said he knows it is the right time for him to retire. He plans to continue teaching classes at the Crowder College Cassville Campus.

"Other than that, I'll be doing whatever my wife tells me to do," Mann said with a laugh. "We would like to take a couple cruises. We would also like to take a train from Warrensburg to Buffalo, N.Y., and see the sites. They have a big theater festival there."

Mann lives in Monett with his wife, Marilyn. The couple have three children, Paige, who is a physical therapy doctor in Houston, Texas, Aaron, who has a triple degree in dancing, acting and singing and lives in New York City, and Darla, who lives in Warrensburg with her husband and two daughters, Ella and Molly. All three of Mann's children have been active in theater at various levels.

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