PROFILE: Graduate Will Return To UC This Fall – As An Assistant Professor
Steve Kroeger will prepare students to teach in special education, a job that’s in top demand.
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Steve Kroeger of Winton Place has dedicated his career to “helping students with disabilities find a voice.” The UC adjunct education professor was awarded his doctorate in curriculum and instruction during the UC hooding ceremony June 11 in the Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center.
The 50-year-old Kroeger says he came to the profession late, but it was his dedication to service that led him to a pathway in special education. After graduating from Roger Bacon High School three decades ago, he says he started out in commercial art, but his interest in volunteerism led to a life-changing event. “I did a year of volunteer work in the West Indies and then I joined the Jesuits. It was a wonderful experience. I studied in Latin America for a couple of years and worked in Nicaragua and Peru.
“Once I came back from Peru, I began working at a campus ministry at Loyola University in Chicago and from there, I worked at a Detroit city high school.”
Kroeger says it was his experience in Detroit that led him to his current career that focuses on children identified with emotional disorders and learning disabilities. After earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy, he moved to Cincinnati to earn his master’s degree in special education from UC and just one year later in 1994, he was awarded Educator of the Year at the Southwest Ohio Special Education Resource Center. As he pursued his doctoral degree, Kroeger was working as an intervention specialist in a middle school while working as an adjunct professor at UC.
“Steve has been recognized nationally for his work in positive behavioral support and work in helping students with emotional and behavioral disorders find their voices,” says UC Education Professor Anne Bauer, chair of Kroeger’s doctoral committee. “In addition to demonstrating excellent practice, Steve has published his methods in journals and has had a significant impact on the field.”
Kroeger says he has found that successful students can result from teachers taking the listening role when children are at risk. “So much of their educational progress depends on the rapport that you build with children of high risk. My approach in the past 10 years has been learning how to interpret behavior. The research indicates that if children at risk can form a bond with someone who sees their potential, it counters the risk factors on a daily basis.” He adds that support for special education teachers is also of high priority, explaining that the longevity of a career in that profession averages just three years.
In addition to celebrating the achievement of his doctorate degree, Kroeger just received more good news from the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services. He was promoted to a full-time job as assistant professor in the new bachelor’s degree program in special education. Kroeger wrote the proposal for the new program, which begins taking students this fall.