Ryan Stein'04: "Every day with my students is an
exciting, challenging adventure."
Stein is more likely to show up for work
wearing a costume than a suit and tie.
Fourth grade isn't what it used to be.
Elementary-school teacher Ryan Stein ’04 is more likely to show
up for work wearing a costume than a suit and tie. Stein, known for his innovative
spin on teaching, is so popular with students that their parents measure time in
terms of “Before Mr. Stein” and “After Mr. Stein.” The creative dynamo uses song
and dance to teach his Pinchbeck Elementary students, and his unconventional style
is turning traditional education on its ear.
Now in his sixth year at Henrico County (Virginia) Schools, Stein is the creator
of a software program called History MVP that uses music to encourage critical thinking.
Songs such as “Give Me Liberty” and “Eastern World” blend catchy lyrics and energetic
tunes that Stein says help students to “assess the events of the past, hypothesize
about the future, and back up their opinions with confidence.” History MVP supports
Virginia learning standards and is currently in use in more than 300 elementary
schools, which is music to Stein’s ears.
“My dream of implementing my teaching tools and philosophy through music and dance
has finally come true,” he says. “Each day with my students is an exciting, challenging
adventure, and it brings me great pride to see them excel.” Stein’s efforts were
lauded this year when he was named one of Henrico’s Top 20 Teachers and when he
received the Virginia Lottery’s Super Teacher Award.
To read more Alumni Success stories, click
Stein was a guest on the October 6, 2011 broadcast of the Rachael Ray Show. Stein
won one of five grand prizes in the nationwide "Back to School in Style Makeover."
The contest awarded grand prizes that include a wardrobe from Jones New York and
Macy's, a makeover that will be revealed on the Rachael Ray Show, school supplies
from Office Max and Adopt-a-Classroom, and cash for the school. Stein, who was nominated
for the award by a friend, flew to New York September 18 to tape the show.
Stein’s own educational adventure blossomed when he was a student at Randolph-Macon
College. Recruited to play basketball
for the Yellow Jackets, Stein says a campus visit
made him realize that R-MC was the perfect college for him. “The guys on the hoop
team were just like me, and the small class sizes were very appealing,” he recalls.
He majored in sociology and minored in elementary
education, and he credits his professors
with encouraging him to strive for excellence. “I can’t express how appreciative
I am for their guidance,” he says.
When he isn’t teaching, Stein conducts professional development workshops for teachers
and college students. In addition, he and fellow alum Patrick Gill ’06 are currently
at work on a book titled The Parent Conference, which teachers can use
to create effective learning environments.
The basketball he loved in college has bounced back into Stein’s life, but this
time he is coaching rather than playing. He was recently appointed head varsity
basketball coach at Glen Allen High School. “I was a varsity assistant basketball
coach at Benedictine High School for several years, and the team won two state championships,”
says Stein. “I hope to continue that success at Glen Allen.”
Stein stays connected to his alma mater by attending
Homecoming Weekend and basketball banquets. “It's always special to reunite
with old friends and the Randolph-Macon family,” he says. “Revisiting a place that
was vital to my development is very rewarding.” During the past four years, Stein
has conducted technology workshops for R-MC seniors. “Giving back to the education
department that encouraged me to become a teacher is truly an honor,” he says.
Given Stein’s creativity, it’s not surprising that his recent marriage proposal
to girlfriend Kimberly Mullins was anything by run-of-the-mill. At his family’s
farm in Zionsville, Indiana, Stein surprised Mullins by proposing to her on a rainy,
cold weekend. “She agreed to go for a quick ride on my grandparents’ golf cart,
but I knew I only had about three minutes to propose because of the weather,” says
Stein. “So I pulled over and got down on my knee in the mud and asked her to marry
me.” Stein says he wanted to propose in Indiana because his grandparents live there.
“They define what true love is all about,” he explains. “They have been married
almost 60 years. After Kimberly said ‘yes,’ we went back to the house; her family
had flown in to surprise her. It was a perfect weekend.”
Originally posted 6/21/11