Since entering the teaching profession as a high school science teacher in 1985, Dr. Steven Isoye MA ’95 has risen through the ranks from classroom educator to chair of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), which administers K-12 public education throughout the state of Illinois. Along the way, he served as a science department chair, curriculum leader, high school principal at Warren Township and Maine East, and superintendent in two high school districts—Oak Park-River Forest District 200 and Niles Township District 219.

As an educator and school administrator, Isoye has embraced every opportunity to learn from students, colleagues and leaders. “The students that I have taught or have had an opportunity to interact with as an administrator had a huge influence on me throughout my career,” he explains. Isoye also gives much credit to his fellow teachers for his development as a successful educator. “My peers helped me improve my craft of teaching and understand how to enhance my lessons to best engage students,” he recalls.

Dr. Isoye gives remarks at the 2023 Teachers of the Year Reception in Bloomington, IL

Along the way, the administrators who led the schools where Isoye was a staff member took note of his potential. “They pushed me to consider the broader impact of education by focusing on serving entire communities,” he says.

Isoye recognized that his new focus required additional training, which led him to pursue a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Concordia-Chicago. “To be a good teacher, continuous personal growth is a necessity,” he says. “It clearly made sense to dive deeper into my understanding of curriculum and instruction with my work in the classroom at the time.”

Isoye chose Concordia-Chicago for his master’s degree because it was recommended by his teaching colleagues and highly regarded within the profession. In addition, he appreciated the opportunity to earn an advanced degree in lockstep with his peers from neighboring districts throughout north Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.

The mid-career educator found CUC’s program to be well aligned with many of the real-world challenges schools were facing at the time. Isoye found that the instructional design and reading emphasis made him a more effective teacher. The business management aspect of the program prompted an aspiration to work in school administration that led to his pursuing a succession of higher degrees. “[My CUC master’s in curriculum and instruction] was a foundation that helped me in my leadership roles,” Isoye reflects. As his career advanced, Isoye proceeded to earn MSEd, EdS and EdD degrees from Northern Illinois University.

For the rest of the story, including Isoye’s hopes for the next generation of educators, read the Summer 2023 edition of the Forester magazine.