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Schaefer’s interest in history grew after reading historical fiction


Everyone has a story, and according to Christine Schaefer, the stories of others are simply captivating. That’s why she chose to become a social studies teacher. “I find the stories of humans fascinating and want to share those stories with my students,” Schaefer explains.

After graduating from Valley High School in West Des Moines, Schaefer went on to earn her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University in History and her Master of Arts in Social Sciences from the University of Northern Iowa. Going into college, Schaefer had a pretty good idea that history was for her. “I fell in love with history one summer in middle school when I was bored and picked up a book from my parents’ book shelf,” Schaefer recalls. “It was a historical fiction work on King Arthur. After reading, I wanted to know more about this king, so started researching English history. “From there my interest in history continued to grow, which helped determine my path of history and the social studies as my focus for teaching.”

As for her passion for teaching, Schaefer shares that “when I was 14, I was asked to be a junior teacher at the gymnastics club where I took lessons. I really enjoyed helping the younger gymnasts, and that is when I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”

That decision has led her thus far to a 16-year career. But she hasn’t just taught locally; aside from teaching at West Des Moines, Des Moines, and Woodward-Granger, Schaefer has also had a classroom in Cairo, Egypt. That just proves her love of history, culture, and travel. In fact, Schaefer hopes to do more traveling in the future. “My hopes for the future are to do a little more world traveling and to keep teaching.”

Schaefer has a true passion for teaching, but that isn’t the only part of her job that she loves. Her students are the ones who make it all worth while.

“The biggest reward and my favorite part of my job is so cliche but true. It’s when I see a kid light up with excitement because they get something new or are excited about an idea or topic we are discussing,” Schaefer gushes.

“When I make a connection with a student and then I see them have an AHA! moment or beam about an accomplishment they have worked for: that is why I love this job.”

And it’s especially worth it when the students know it’s worth it and are thankful for their teacher.

“Over the years I have heard my students say some crazy and funny things, but the thing I never forget is when they say thank you.”