Home Grown Teachers Part 7
Alicia (Steinruck) Nygard
Ninth Grade English Teacher
It is clear from the way she talks about her students that Mrs. Nygard is passionate about their educational success. “I really feel like I have the world’s best ninth graders,” explains Nygard who is in her third year teaching at Cavelero Mid High.
Alicia (Steinruck) Nygard moved to Lake Stevens in third grade with her family and attended Skyline Elementary. From there she went on to Lake Stevens Middle School and then graduated from Lake Stevens High School in 2002. In her time in the district, Nygard was surrounded by wonderful educators but stated that Mrs. Muir, Mr. Unckles, Mr. Berg and Mr. Hodgins were among her favorites. “Not only did they care a lot about their subject area, but they made it clear to their students that they deeply cared about them as people,” reflected Nygard.
Nygard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English writing from Pacific Lutheran University in 2006 knowing that she wanted to become a teacher in the Lake Stevens School District. In 2009, Nygard received her master’s degree in secondary education from Seattle Pacific University. When asked what influenced her decision to teach in Lake Stevens, she shared that her experience in the schools and the amazing teachers she had drew her back to the community.
At Cavelero, Nygard teaches ninth grade English and academic skills development and she couldn’t be happier. She stated that she is so impressed by her students’ opinions and deep thoughts. “It is really fun to see how they are beginning to develop their ideas about major life topics and world issues and different subjects that show up in literature.”
Nygard is also a track coach at Lake Stevens High School. She coaches students in long jump, triple jump and javelin. This coming track season will be her fourth.
Not only does Nygard try to instill a love of reading and writing in her students, but she strives to infuse character development into her lessons. “I don’t think the students are ever too old to have those lessons included into their curriculum,” shared Nygard.
Stuart Chaffee, English and Leadership Teacher
Growing up with a parent as an educator, Stuart Chaffee got to see the ins and outs of teaching. His father, Cliff Chaffee is a teacher at Lake Stevens High School with 37 years of experience and was a huge influence on Stuart’s decision to become an educator.
Chaffee started attending Lake Stevens Schools in seventh grade when he transferred from the Snohomish School District. In school he had a passion for running and was a member of the track and cross-country teams. After he graduated from Lake Stevens High School in 1999, Chaffee followed that love of running to college where he ran track and cross-country for Western Oregon University. After he received his bachelor’s degree in English, he began substituting in the Lake Stevens School District. He fell in love with the profession and went back to school and earned his master’s degree in education from Willamette University and teaching endorsements in English and humanities.
When asked what made him want to come back to teach in Lake Stevens, he explained that he had a great experience in Lake Schools. “I have a lot of respect for the people I knew and the teachers that I had. I knew this was a great place to start a career and to make my home,” Chafee explains.
Even though Chaffee had many great teachers during his time in Lake Schools, his favorites were Mr. Collins, Mr. McKinney and Mr. Page. But he credits his father as being his inspiration to become an educator. He described how his dad loves what he does and that he still loves going to work every day. “That had a profound influence on me when I was trying to pick my career,” Chaffee said.
Chaffee is currently in his fourth year teaching at Cavelero Mid High where he teaches English and leadership. He is also a track and cross-country coach at Lake Stevens High School. “I love getting to spend time mentoring kids as both a teacher and a coach. It’s a really rewarding job,” shared Chaffee. He stated that the most worthwhile aspect of teaching is that he not only influences students’ academics, but their character as well.
Josh Fountain, History and Algebra Teacher
When Josh Fountain graduated from Lake Stevens High School in 2006, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do but he knew one thing: he loved history. No matter what career he was exploring, he always came back to his passion for learning about the past. His interests led him to the University of Washington where he earned his bachelor’s degree in comparative religion and history.
Fountain’s passion for teaching began after he became a substitute teacher in the Lake Stevens School District and he knew from then on he wanted a classroom of his own. He went back to school and received his master’s degree in education from Northwest University and has teaching endorsements in math and history from Everett Community College.
During his High School years, Fountain identified one teacher in particular who influenced him the most - Mr. Talley. “It would be an understatement to say Mr. Talley was the main force that drove me to be a teacher here at Lake Stevens,” explained Fountain. He went on to recall how Talley’s lessons and creative teaching style made history relatable to his students and that is one strategy Fountain tries to emulate in his classroom as well.
This is Fountain’s second year at Cavelero Mid High where he teaches algebra and history. Armed with an arsenal of great lessons for his students including homemade pretend muskets and a special taste test of foods soldiers ate during the civil war, he tries to engage his students and make learning fun and tangible.
When asked what made him want to teach, Fountain said that he loves the positive environment of the classroom. “When I see people get things and understand their world a little bit better, I just get motivated and I want to keep going,” Fountain shared. Along with being a teacher, he is also Cross Country Coach at Cavelero and is trying to build and expand the Lake Stevens distance running program.
Fountain is a lifelong Lake Stevens student having gone to school in the district from kindergarten to 12th grade.