The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

Staff Profile
Sadie Bodzin
Sadie Bodzin
Culture Co-Editor

New Staff Profile: Ryan Clevenger

An up-close look at City High’s newest english teacher and men’s cross country coach
New+Staff+Profile%3A+Ryan+Clevenger
Hattie Conover

While Ryan Clevenger wasn’t receiving summa cum laude or the best grades in the school, there wasn’t a student in Downers Grove High School history who could trump his mile time on the track, thanks to running Clevenger’s future was opened up to something he couldn’t have dreamed up.

“I am from Downers Grove, Illinois and I have one sister who’s older than me, she’s an architect in Chicago. She motivated me a lot with what it looks like to be a hard-working individual. I also have a very big athletic background, in running cross country and track. I ran all throughout high school and went to college to run as well,” Ryan Clevenger said.

Clevenger attended college at the University of Wisconsin Madison running D1 track and cross country all four years. He graduated with a degree in communications later finding himself at the University of Iowa to pursue a degree in education.

“During my time at college in Madison, I learned what it looked like to be independent and take priority in my schoolwork. At Wisconsin, I fell in love with caring for people and I learned that the real things that matter are the relationships that you build, and forge, and that eventually led me to teaching,” Clevenger said.

Clevenger has felt waves of influence from people in his life from his sister to teachers and coaches all of whom have led him to not only where he is today, an English teacher at City High, but who he is today.

“I had a coach in high school, Coach Kup who was a social studies teacher for 30-plus years. My team and I thought he was a little bit crazy, in a good way. He’d sing in practice and play his guitar but he was also really present with us and cared for us beyond what we could do for him athletically. Eventually, after college, I looked back on that and I could see the impact he had on so many kids’ lives and I wanted to be a part of that,” Clevenger said.

Inspiration for Clevenger’s teaching style comes a lot from the idea that he wants to disconnect kids from technology and instead connect them to their thoughts and emotions through writing in English class.

“I think that technology is a wonderful way to help you interact but writing in its purest form comes from your soul and comes from your heart. So I want kids to be in a place where they can do that and feel comfortable doing that,” Clevenger said.

While Clevenger is not from Iowa City originally, he has spent his fair share of time here and within the Iowa City Community School District over the past few years. He started at the University of Iowa and spent a bit of time at West High with Ms. Barnhouse, he then moved on to student teaching at City High just last year with Mr. Peters, and now assumes a role at City High teaching four sections of English 10 and one Success Center class. 

“When you’re spending months and months with the same group of people there’s something special that occurs at some point where trust gets built through knowing about what kids are doing outside of school and what their interests are. That is probably my greatest memory of student teaching,” Clevenger said.

During his time learning about teaching at West High with Ms. Barnhouse Clevenger carefully observed what she did to make her class somewhere that students wanted to be, a class that felt welcoming and didn’t give students an anxious feeling to come to.

“[Barnhouse] used to ask me, ‘How does a student feel when they come to your room?’ It made me ask myself and my students ‘How do I make the first few minutes of class a space where we can kind of just chat, and like catch up?’ Today we’re gonna do a little Where’s Waldo game together for the first few minutes. So it’s finding those little things that get kids in the seats and be present in the room,” Clevenger said.

Looking forward to Clevenger’s first year as a teacher he has aspirations to make an effect on his students’ lives.

“I think the most rewarding aspect of being a teacher is the things that I don’t see, what someone will do when they leave my room. There’s an impact that they can have on the world that’s beyond something that I could even grasp, something like just loving the people around you and caring for people wherever you are,” Clevenger said.

 

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Hattie Conover
Hattie Conover, Reporter
Journalist by day... tennis prodigy by night
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