LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Christopher Steiner

Position: Retiring STEM Teacher
School: Glencoe High School
School District: Hillsboro School District
City, State: Hillsboro, OR

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Christopher Steiner was nominated by his friend, Williane Tenca.

Mr. Steiner has dedicated his career to inspiring students to engage in science and technology. During his 29 years of teaching, he went above and beyond to create opportunities for his students to experience STEM in new, exciting ways, from leading students in building a 100-foot replica of a suspension bridge made from rope and PVC pipe to 100-pound robots. His passion for attracting students to careers in science and technology has shown through in his numerous leadership positions. 

Mr. Steiner started his career teaching middle school science. Soon afterwards, he broadened his experience by teaching at the high school level in subjects such as science, math, and engineering. He also spent several years as a teacher on special assignment (TOSA) with a mission of supporting teachers and programs across the district along with curriculum development. Throughout his assignments, he maintained a special focus and spent much of his personal time on extracurricular programs that made STEM exciting for students. 

At Hillsboro High School, Mr. Steiner started a science fair program that eventually expanded across the district. He led a group of like-minded teachers from elementary and middle schools and found sponsorship from local businesses to support science fairs at all elementary and middle schools. Eventually, he organized a District Science Fair for grades K-8.  At the same time, he collaborated with a neighboring school district to carry out the Beaverton Hillsboro Science Expo, a high school science fair whose affiliation sent top-rated students to the state science fair and the International Science and Engineering Fair. 

In addition, Mr. Steiner was a strong leader for robotics education across the state of Oregon. He started and organized an annual LEGO Robotics Tournament for students in a low-income neighborhood for almost a decade. In addition, he co-founded a bilingual LEGO Robotics tournament where students and their families could participate fully in either English or Spanish.

In 2011, he became involved with the high school level FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). He began his involvement with mentoring his daughter’s team, but eventually, he wanted to bring the competition to a new group of students. Mr. Steiner founded FRC Team 4488 Shockwave in 2013. He recruited industry mentors and sponsorship from local technology companies along with support from school leaders. The team has competed at the International level every year since its founding and was once a quarterfinalist at that level. More importantly, this team has given Mr. Steiner and the adult leaders an opportunity to excite hundreds of students about science, engineering and business. He was always focused on encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to participate, many of whom would never have had similar opportunities otherwise.

As said by one of Mr. Steiner's former students, “the sheer amount that has been made possible by Mr. Steiner is awe-inspiring.” Simply put, without him, there would be no FRC Team 4488. The structure of science fairs across two major school districts would be different, and thousands of students would not have had the opportunity to participate in their chosen STEM activities. Mr. Steiner is able to connect with all his students in different ways and has had profound influences on them. His inspiration led to many of his former students completing higher education in STEM fields and starting their professional careers.

"Although he will be missed, his students and colleagues are excited for him to enjoy his much-deserved retirement," said Tenca. "However, I know that with his wonderful heart, he will continue volunteering for his FRC Robotics team and changing many lives."