Lansing Catholic educator Steve Pohl admits he never intended to work in a school. But, he says, “God had better plans for me than I could come up with on my own.”
In fact, Pohl says, he wanted to become an architect.
“I was 19. I had been through just one year of college, and I knew my career path. I was going to work in an architectural firm, and I was going to design buildings and houses,” he remembers. “I had a professor who was already working here at Lansing Catholic, trying to develop the drafting program, and he asked for my help.”
Pohl says teaching was the very last profession on his radar at the time.
“I don’t know why I said yes, because I was definitely afraid of public speaking and it still really bothers me to this day. So teaching? No way. There’s no way I could stay up in front of a class and talk,” Pohl says. “Every part of me would’ve said no, but God said yes. And I don’t know how or why a yes squeaked out of me, but it did.”
Now, 37 years later, Pohl is still saying yes. Today he teaches not only drafting, but digital photography, graphic arts, and broadcasting.
“It’s the joy of sharing something that I’m passionate about. It’s the discovery moment when students start to demonstrate their talents and find out what they’re capable of doing,” he says. “The students here do amazing things. And to lead them toward the reward of taking a risk, of doing something new and different—well, it’s pretty incredible.”
When the school day ends, Pohl isn’t done. He practices nearly everything he teaches, bringing real-world experiences to his instruction daily.
“I’ve been designing homes since I was a senior in high school. I started the business my first year in college and still have it to this day,” Pohl says. “I do freelance photography, graphic artwork, and graphic design work. And I love it because it keeps me engaged and current.”
As a former associate professor of architecture at Lansing Community College, Pohl also has three decades of college teaching behind him.
“What I do is enjoyable. It’s as much as a hobby as it is a career,” Pohl says. “But it is a lot of work. It’s evenings and weekends spent at the computer or on the job, responding to the needs of my clients and my students as much as I can. It’s hard work, but it’s gratifying.”
Fortunately, most of Pohl’s toughest professional moments have been spent on the athletic field, rather than in the classroom or on the job.
“We live in Portland. So, yes, okay, we’re Raiders,” Pohl says. “It was always hard to walk in front of a Lansing Catholic crowd wearing my Portland jersey when I was a dad and my kids were competing. But my kids came first before my job. I always felt embarrassed when I walked in front of a parent I knew and I was sporting Raider colors.”
Of course, ever the design genius, Pohl had an elegant solution to his dilemma.
“I always used to wish they would put a La-Z-Boy in the end zone of the football field and I would wear both colors,” he says (noting nobody ever did). “Or I would wear two hats and flip them on back and forth, so I could root for both teams. You don’t want any of them to lose.”
After more than 35 years of teaching, Pohl says he often is asked about retirement.
“I feel like I have some good years left, and I’m enjoying myself,” Pohl says. “I started out so young that my decades of work really aren’t that long. I’ll be here as long as I still feel the calling and the passion and feel like I’ve got something I can share.”
Thus, Steve Pohl’s relentless yes—spoken into being by God when he was only 19—continues.
About Lansing Catholic High School
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