Be the Change – Steve Main, Anderson

After teaching for 38 years, Steve Main doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon. He’s having too much fun, he says.

For the past eight years, Main has taught at Anderson New Technology High School. Like many teachers, he knows he’s a role-model. While readily admitting to his imperfections, he embraces the position of mentor.

“I believe kids need to have roots, something to count on,” says Main. Not only did his own parents lead by example, providing guidance and support, he says it was a group of men during his early years of teaching at Big Valley High School in Burney that helped to mold him into the man he is today. One particular person, Ray Odom, stands out. “He had an impeccable demeanor and behavior; a firm hand with the kids, yet a passion for what he did,” says Main.

Andrew Carney, a senior at Anderson New Tech has been a student of Main’s for four years: “You would have to write a book to tell all the things that man has done for me and everyone else in class,” says Carney. “He’s like a gentle, yet forceful hand that pushes you up until you fail, teaching you how to grow from failure and to relish the failure to make you a better person.”

Students in Main’s Leadership Class have experienced this “pushing” by being given opportunities to engage in the world around them. Student representatives attend weekly teacher, city council and school board meetings where they interact and listen. The county school board selects two students through a county-wide application process each year, and New Tech has sent three students in the last four years.

Other Leadership Class community activities include volunteering at the Anderson/Cottonwood Christian Association, sponsoring blood drives, “adopting” a family at Christmas, and most recently running an e-waste (electronic devices) collection drive.

None of the school’s students escape Main’s gentle nudge to experience new challenges. This year the school’s Political Studies class was involved in a Project Citizen program that sent small groups of students outside the walls of the school to find a problem in the community, such as unemployment and economic development, animal overpopulation, increasing the number of Shasta Co. students going on to college, etc. Each student group interviewed key people (including senators) involved in the problem. They then assessed the problem and created a new policy – not an easy task for some students, yet they always rise to your expectations, says Main.

“Steve is willing to try anything that gets kids to think harder and deeper about ideas, philosophy, law, literature … you name it,” says Pat Allison, Principal of Anderson New Tech. She has known Main for fifteen years and has seen the passion he has for his students. “Some people teach curriculum; Steve teaches kids,” she says.

Allison says that during the lunch hour, she often finds Main sitting face-to-face with a student discussing the latest book the student has read. “I do not attempt to interrupt those conversations … I couldn’t if I tried,” she says.

Outside of the school campus, Main leads by example when it comes to engaging and impacting the world around him. He is a board member at the Riverfront Playhouse, currently working behind the scenes to help raise funds for a new community theater building. He is participating in the upcoming local Dancing with the Stars event (July 7 at the Cascade Theatre) to raise $10,000 for Shasta Women’s Refuge. “I can’t dance,” he admits, “but I’m having fun with the challenge.”  With his dance partner Kathy Babcock, Main will hopefully experience success!

When it comes to the challenge of educating young minds, Cathy Alderman has worked as Main’s teaching partner at New Tech since his arrival. “Carpe diem (seize the day) could be his motto,” she says, explaining the energy and passion her co-worker exhibits daily. “He is incredibly passionate about life and sharing experiences to help the students become better citizens and reflective, critical-thinking people.”

At the end of every school year, Main, who also teaches English, writes a poem for each of the senior graduates. “I acknowledge their role in my life,” he says. As for the role he has played in their lives, that life-poem is still being written.

For Main one thing is certain, “I’m exactly where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing.”

[sws_blue_box box_size=”580″]Our Be the Change column mission is to feature those, especially from the North State, who are actively making a difference in the lives of children and families. If you would like to nominate someone who is making a difference, please write to [/sws_blue_box]

Kimberly Shaw
About Kimberly Shaw

Kimberly Shaw is a local Northern California author.

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