Some French teachers might be born in France; some might be from the U.S., but with French heritage. Some might have been born in Iowa, with Russian, British and Welsh heritage. Jeff Stein fits the last description just right.
If it wasn’t for his brother, Stein might not have been the man he was today. His brother took French in middle school and high school and told him to take it as well. Stein never planned on it.
In fact, a career test in high school said he would most likely become a forester, but Stein took French from middle school until his sophomore year in high school. However, rather than continuing on with it, he quit.
“My French teacher was terrible; I couldn’t stand it anymore,” Stein said.
Fast forward a couple years to the University of Wisconsin- Madison. When Stein first started attending college, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He started out with studying civil engineering.
He then started taking French again, starting anew from his high school experience and his dreaded French teacher. After six years of being an undergrad, with almost 50 credits over the required amount to graduate, Stein got his Bachelor’s degree in French and English.
One of Stein’s best college experiences was his semester spent abroad in France. He stayed at the Sorbonne, a part of a university in Paris.
“It was amazing. I’d definitely recommend people try to go abroad,” said Stein. During it, he travelled all the way from Morocco up to Denmark.
After college, Stein headed to Boston. He spent five years teaching there.
One thing he did there was teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to Vietnamese children in China town. Every week they would go on fieldtrips, and there would “always be a kid who threw up on the bus, always,” Stein said.
For job commute Stein traveled 70 miles round trip by car every day.
“I finally got sick of Boston,” said Stein. “It was a very high-pace high-stress environment.” It was then that he moved to St. Louis with his wife, who had grown up here.
The first few years he worked in the magnet schools in the city, which also weren’t too enjoyable. Once when the teachers got their tax forms from the school, it had them all listed as deceased.
In 2003 Webster came into the picture. There was a job opening at Hixson, and Stein went after it immediately.
“I was ecstatic to come to Webster to teach; it was a perfect place,” Stein said.
He worked at Hixson for six years before coming up to the high school. Now, he works full time here teaching French III, IV, V and APVI.
This is his first year also teaching English at WGHS, teaching Freshman Lit. and American Writers.
“My favorite part of working in Webster is how professional everyone here is. It’s a perfect work environment. That and the students are all great too,” Stein said.
Outside of school, Stein is a huge bike fanatic. He participates in track cycling, a type of bike racing, in the summer at a track by Kingshighway.
He’s also cycled twice in France, doing solo cross country bike tours, once in 2004 through Central France and then again in 2007 going through the Pyrenees Mountains.