​Lakota teacher found passion for role at an orphanage

Q&A with Todd Overbeck of Cherokee Elementary.

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

Todd Overbeck’s mother knew he was meant to be a teacher even before he did.

“I have always loved working with kids. I used to baby-sit my cousins and neighborhood kids when I was younger. I eventually worked as a camp counselor at a YMCA summer camp. Later I worked at a daycare center and eventually figured out that this was my calling,” he said. “My mom said she always knew I would end up teaching and wondered what took me so long to figure it out.”

While serving as a volunteer for six months at the St. John Bosco orphanage in Jamaica, Overbeck realized teaching was where his heart was.

“I really had time to reflect on my life and what I wanted to do with it. I made up my mind to become a teacher while there,” he said. “I also learned to appreciate the important things in life.”

Now the fourth-grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Cherokee Elementary School is in his 18th year of teaching.

The Today’s Pulse found out more about Overbeck.

Q: What was your educational journey?

A: I have a Bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Cincinnati. I eventually went back to school for education and received my Master of Education from the University of Cincinnati.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

A: The students always keep you on your toes, and every day is different. There are always challenges and struggles, but there is always joy and success to celebrate as well. It's hard to say what I enjoy most, but the best part of the day is when I get to read meaningful, interesting and moving books to my students during the read aloud.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing teachers today?

A: There are so many different challenges facing teachers these days that it is hard to pinpoint just one. Students are coming to school with more and more needs and deficiencies.

This is my 18th year of teaching, and it seems that every year, more and more paperwork and data collection is required of us. This takes up a lot of our time outside of the classroom. Standardized testing and scores have also become the focus in many parts of education. As a teacher, I have to constantly remember that I went into education to work with kids. I try to see them as the little people they are and not just test scores.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?

A: All students can learn.

Q: What is a favorite memory from your teaching career?

A: It's hard to say because there are so many great memories made each year. One of my favorite parts of my job is when former students come back to see me. I know their visit is their way of saying thank you. It rejuvenates me.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: My wife and I love to camp, trail run, kayak, mountain bike, hike and visit national parks. We also love to travel and go see live music. She is also a teacher, so we really try to live it up during summer.

Q: How do you feel your experiences help you connect with students?

A: I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities and education that my family provided for me. My family went on many trips to national parks and other places that instilled this sense of curiosity in me. I try to share many stories about my childhood with my students so that they will hopefully want to go out and see the world for themselves.

Q: What would you share with parents about teachers?

A: We are working hard every day to do the best we can for your kids, our students. We do this, because we care very much about your child. Please be our partner in helping find solutions to any problems that arise.