Mr. Steger


Jacob Phillips

Mr. Steger working

Jack of all trades and a master of some is just one way to describe this remarkable man, Thomas Robert Steger. I interviewed said man, and these are his responses.

What were your favorite pastimes growing up?
I grew up fishing. We had a stream that ran through our farm at home, and I grew up in the outdoors, spent a lot of time in that creek fishing and hunting on the farm and a lot of outdoor activities and sports with friends and family. Playing sports was always one of my passions.

What was your biggest capture/hunt?
My biggest catch? I got an eight-plus pound bass at a bass tournament; that was big. I caught a 50-plus-inch muskie once. But shooting anything big? Not really, I don’t have anything to write home about there.

Was that your best experience fishing?
I mean that big bass, um, it was fun, but the best experience is fishing for me or just the challenge of the chase. I enjoy figuring out the puzzle more than I do catching the fish.

What made you want to be a teacher?
That’s a long story. So at first, I didn’t really want to add another teacher to my family tree; I have five aunts and two uncles who are teachers. My grandmother was a teacher, and my sister was going to school to be a teacher; I did not want to do that and follow in everybody’s footsteps. I refused to do that for the longest time until I realized that’s what I was good at. It was what I was probably meant to do, and I was passionate about it. I found it through first coaching football. I coached at UW Platteville as a graduate assistant for three years there and decided I wanted to coach football at the high school level, and teaching was the logical way to do that.

What other jobs did you consider having?
I started in Radio/TV broadcasting. So I was going to be a sports broadcaster, a newsman, a weatherman, something like that. I was deep into the sciences. So I was going to work in the lab and do research and test and create new medicines for things, or be a Wildlife Resource Officer or like a warden or something like that for a while.

What other jobs have you had, and what were they?
I have not had a lot of jobs because I mostly worked on our farm when I grew up, so that was my income growing up and even through my first couple years in college. I then worked at Pizzeria Uno in Platteville for five years as a cook and bused tables and washed dishes and things there. Really, no other long-term jobs. I had a few gigs here and there, but otherwise, teaching was the next step.

What has changed the most since you started teaching?
Probably not a lot. People will say kids are different; kids aren’t really different. The technology is different, that’s for sure. When I started, there was maybe a computer in each room, but that was just the beginning; the internet was very new when I started teaching. Cell phones were big, bulky things that people didn’t have, and now, all information is accessible all the time to everybody. So the idea that you learn about stuff that you have to actually acknowledge, whereas you can just ask Siri and she’ll tell you, is very different from back then. It’s more about what you can do with that information. That’s probably the biggest difference.

What is something people usually wouldn’t know about you that you wanted to get out there?
I don’t know how many people know that I’m actually a singer. I used to sing at weddings, and I was in the musical and in the choir in high school. I still sing once in a while or if there are some shows I’d do a little bit.

Is there one thing about your life that you think you would’ve changed if you could go back in time?
I don’t think I would change a lot, I feel like life’s your journey, and if you change the journey at all, the destination doesn’t really matter as much. You know, it took me over seven years to get through college, and that was part of finding what I wanted to do in life. And I’m glad I did. So I don’t think I would go back even though it’s expensive and it took me a while to pay off the student loans. “I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t trade it, so I don’t really have any regrets; I would do everything the same.”

That’s a great quote.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.