Chillicothe town schools art teacher retires after 30 years

CHILLICOTHE – For the past 30 years, a teacher at Chillicothe Town Schools has strived to make learning fun by highlighting the intersections of math, science, reading, and art.

Since 1991, Steve Maybriar has made it his mission to show students that practical and artistic subjects can coexist. He has earned a reputation as an energetic educator who makes children think that learning is fun and that it is well respected by students and staff. The love for his career could have kept him alive for another decade, but after 30 years with the District, Maybriar is retiring.

“The decision was difficult. I never hated a day,” he said. “But it was a good time, even though I hated leaving the kids. When school starts in the fall, I’ll be worried about my little darlings.”

Originally from Kentucky, Maybriar was motivated by academics and even joined his high school chess club. Although he had always loved math and science, Maybriar was drawn to the field of art and loved to draw. He planned to study medicine at the University of Kentucky, but eventually decided to major in art at Moorehead State University. He later obtained a teaching degree from Ohio University in Athens.

As a student, Maybriar met his late wife Kathy and they moved to Chillicothe to be closer to her parents. He was hired by the Chillicothe Town School District in 1991 and quickly fell in love with the community. Over the years, Maybriar has taught math, science, and reading to elementary school students, but his most recent position was teaching arts at Chillicothe Middle School.

To help students succeed, Maybriar determined which subjects are the most difficult and found ways to incorporate art into lessons. In math, students are able to learn shapes and patterns by creating them themselves, and in the humanities, students understand geography by drawing their own maps.

One of the favorite lessons for children is when they study animals. Maybriar created a coloring book for students with sketches of their favorite SpongeBob SquarePants characters and a dissected view. It’s a great way for students to understand and explore biology through already familiar ideas.

“Kids don’t even know they’re learning. It’s like hiding spinach in their lunch,” he joked.

But Maybriar’s talent as an artist or as a class leader is not what makes him a legendary educator. For Chillicothe Middle School principal Joshua Tripp and vice-principal Katrena Corbett, it’s her incredible ability to make neglected students feel seen, even if it’s just for a class.

Whether it’s taking the time to teach alongside a student or having lunch with a student, Maybriar has made it her personal mission to find and help young people in need. He strives to meet the children where they are and does all he can to help someone make friends.

Examples of illustrations retired teacher Steve Mayriar made that have been used for school and other projects.

His fondness for the seemingly troubled child stems from his own experiences as a student. Too often he felt smarter than his peers and teachers, which made him feel frustrated. With only one year of high school left, he dropped out. Although he then returned to college, it changed Maybriar’s outlook.

“I’ve always thought that no one is stupid and I’ve never met an idiot. Everyone has their own strengths,” he said.

This is why, as an educator, he worked to help children find theirs, sometimes going above and beyond. Although he had 820 children in his room every week, Maybriar always tried to remember little snippets of each individual.

One of Maybriar’s most memorable students was a fifth grader who went through the entire science textbook before the third week of class. Maybriar recalls thinking that the youngster probably knew more about the subject than he did, but rather than leave the student inactive, Maybriar sought him out. He contacted Ohio University at Chillicothe and was able to enroll the student in one of the courses to boost his motivation. Today he is a neurosurgeon.

Over the years, Maybriar has acquired letters from former students and even attended their weddings, but the messages that still mean the most to him are the ones that say “you have listened.”

Thinking back to his tenure, Maybriar said that in general things are not much different. As technology has advanced and the amount of information available to students has increased, by and large, children are the same. He said, “We are the ones who have changed.

Maybriar also liked being able to move from the classroom to the art room, especially since it was less focused on testing and more on the individual student.

In retirement, Maybriar plans to spend time with his wife Sue, travel, and even earn his scuba diving certificate. In his spare time, he looks forward to collecting fossils, creating art, and spending time with his family.

“I’m so proud of this neighborhood and the kids who are so eager to learn,” Maybriar said. “I have never had a bad student. It was a pleasure to watch these children grow up.”

Do you have a tip or a comment? Contact Toria at [email protected] or 740-349-1106. Follow her on Twitter @ToriaBarnhart.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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