Scott Stevens’ career is a continuous effort to pay it forward.

Stevens serves as a history teacher for eighth-grade students at Bryson Middle School, but that’s just a part of his work with students. He is also the school’s athletic director and the boys’ basketball coach.

A married father of three, Stevens taught for seven years in Pennsylvania before moving to South Carolina and beginning his career at Bryson 11 years ago.

“It’s the old cliché, but I this is what I wanted to do since ninth grade,” he said. “I had a science teacher and varsity basketball coach. He had a mentor and father figure aspect.”

Stevens loved playing sports and now uses that passion to connect with his students.

“Coaching gives me the opportunity to give back and mentor some of these young men,” he said. “It’s such a relationship-oriented job — at least it should be. This age is tough for them. They aren’t sure who they are. They are changing so much, socially, physically and emotionally.”

Stevens serves as an anchor for students when their world seems to be constantly shifting. He relates to them through sports and just having fun. He is known to attend their games and other events and even their high school graduation.

“It helps you understand that there is such an up and down swing of emotion and you need to be steady with them,” he said. “It helps with this age. They have a lot of energy. I’m a bit of a goofball. The kids say I’m a big kid, but that’s that piece of breaking down barriers. You don’t learn when you are afraid.”

While being goofy makes his students comfortable and make Stevens relatable, it also makes his students feel valued, he said. Stevens said an important part of helping his students learn is giving them the freedom to question, discuss and learn how to think critically. Increasing their comfort level promotes that and encourages them to share their ideas with each other.

“They want to know why,” he said. “They want to be able to express their opinions and be themselves, within reason. That kind of environment is what I try to set up in the classroom. I’m willing to be silly with them.”

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