NHS teacher transitioning from military to classroom
By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Having had responsibility for more than 400 people at 12 different U.S Air Force bases to teaching electricity/electronics at Niles High School must feel like one heck of a career transition.
But it's a transition Steven G. Karsten has chosen himself.
Karsten retired from active duty in the Air Force as a superintendent, or command electrical functional manager, after 22 years of service.
He enlisted at the age of 19, and was last stationed at Scott Air Force base in Texas, which is the national headquarters for the air mobility command's civil engineering unit.
Throughout his military career, Karsten, who is married and has three children, has in addition to his time at domestic U.S. Air Force bases been stationed in Guam and the Azores.
The latter is a group of islands in the north Atlantic Ocean belonging to Portugal.
As a leader in the Air Force, Karsten said he has been involved with teaching and preparing many young troops, ranging from Air Force, Navy, Department of Defense civilians and foreign nationals from all over the world.
As a teacher, Karsten said he wants to use his experience to try and make a difference in people's lives.
One of the most important things, however, will always be to ensure his students learn the practical skills they need to have successful working careers.
Which, when working with high voltage electricity in extreme weather situations, as some of his students may end up doing, could mean the difference between life and death.
Karsten, in his first year as a teacher outside the Air Force, is impressed with the high school's career pathways program.
The tools include advanced trouble shooting computer programs and electrical equipment the students use in their hands-on practice.
Karsten said he has talked to teachers at other area high schools, which has made him realize the students at Niles High are fortunate.
Karsten, with his experience and background, said he can give practical examples and give the students a good foundation of knowledge and skills.
Those who stay in the career pathways program, he thinks, won't regret it.
Going from a leader position and being responsible for many people to teaching at the high school level has meant several things to Karsten.
One is that he gets to spend more time with his family. Another is the absence of outside pressure that he was used to when working in the Air Force.
Karsten said instead of working on million-dollar projects, the focus now is to find ways to make the curriculum work for each individual student.
In addition to teaching electronics at the high school, Karsten said he also teaches middle school basketball at Ring Lardner.
As a coach, Karsten said he tries to promote good sportsmanship.
Originally from Grand Rapids, Karsten and his family have recently moved into their new home in Niles.
Two of their children are students at Niles Community Schools, while one is attending university in Illinois on a full ROTC Air Force scholarship.