Alumni Success Story: Nathan Stevens '15
Nathan Stevens dreamed of being an educator so that he could one day lead and mold young minds in the classroom. “Nearly every Lutheran school teacher I had was from a Concordia, so I connected the dots on that one,” said Stevens. After visiting a few schools, Stevens decided to tour Concordia University Irvine. “I stood next to the globe between Grimm Hall North and South,” said Stevens, “and as I looked out on the campus, I felt connected and happy there. CUI was where I wanted to be.”
Stevens applied to Concordia in hopes of following in the footsteps of many of his former teachers. Upon admission, he immediately began to prepare himself to become the leader he aspired to be. He was quick to get involved in the array of extra-curriculars that Concordia has to offer. His freshman year he joined FUSION, a program whose goal is to involve first-year students in leadership opportunities on campus. Later, he became part of The Associated Students of Concordia University Irvine (ASCUI) Senate, where he became part of the student voice for policy-making on campus. He also served as a Resident Assistant, overseeing freshman dorms.
In the midst of all these responsibilities, Stevens still found time to plan Night of Hope, Concordia’s annual benefit concert. He eventually received an invitation to join Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society, which later recognized him for being an exceptional leader. Throughout his undergraduate years, Stevens pursued roles and responsibilities that he knew would help him become a more well-rounded educator.
I stood next to the globe between Grimm Hall North and South. And as I looked out on the campus, I felt connected and happy there. CUI was where I wanted to be."
Dr. Rebecca Peters, Director of Lutheran Teacher Placement, worked closely with Stevens throughout his time at Concordia. “I had the honor of having a class with her 5 out of my 8 semesters in undergraduate studies. Beyond those classes, she was my placement director as a Lutheran teaching student in Christ College,” Stevens recalls. “We had countless conversations about my future profession, my day-to-day college life and serious talks about faith,” remarks Stevens, reflecting on how fortunate he was to have had “a professor who would be so willing to invest her time in my life.”
After completing his teaching credential, Stephens substitute taught while interviewing with Lutheran schools throughout the country in search of a permanent position. The process demanded patience, but he found the support he needed during this season. Says Stevens, “I was getting ready to move back to my home state of Arizona [to wait] out the call process. During that time I really leaned on God, but I also found so much support from my community at CUI.” He received a job offer from Beautiful Savior Lutheran School in Denver, Colorado. After much prayer and contemplation, Stevens moved to the Centennial State to begin the next chapter of his life.
When a child makes a connection between what they learn in the Bible and his or her life, it is all very inspiring.”
Stevens teaches a 4th-6th grade combination class, but he is surrounded by children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, as the school has a special early childhood development center. “Seeing how students of different ages respond to things differently is becoming a favorite part of [teaching],” he says. He is deeply moved by the advancements the children make over time. The greatest fulfillment for him lies not only in the growth that students make in academics, but also in their spiritual journeys. “Seeing a child do the right thing, or fix a mistake on their own, or find immediate success is rewarding. I have the added bonus of being able to connect faith to life in my classroom. When a child makes a connection between what they learn in the Bible and his or her life, it is all very inspiring.”
Stevens gets an early start each morning so he can prepare for the day ahead. “When I get to my classroom, it is all prep time. I usually make copies, straighten things up, and catch up on grading and planning,” said Stevens. “By the time the kids show up, I am playing some sort of music, whether it’s the 80’s or 60s, or even Christmas music.” Stevens’ efforts to ensure a positive learning environment are evidence of his dedication to his work as well as an awareness of his position as a role model in the lives of the children he teaches.
Stevens’ contribution to the academic and spiritual climate of Beautiful Savior Lutheran School can be attributed not only to his drivenness, his commitment to excellence, and his natural leadership skills, but to the solid foundation he received at Concordia University Irvine. Stevens compares his role in the lives of his students to the role that Dr. Peters played in his life. It was the education, commitment, and influence of his professors and his university that Stevens experienced while he was a student, that shaped him to become the educator he is today.