A decade at St. Louis U. High comes to a close this May for math teacher Dan Schuler, who will be departing both SLUH and St. Louis to return to his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Schuler started his career feeling nervous, afraid of “making the cut”—but today, he embodies the gold standard of a SLUH educator—curious, passionate, and contemplative—inside and outside of the classroom. Schuler’s legacy is marked by his gentleness, levity, and understanding.
As a math teacher, Schuler taught a few math classes, but always kept geometry in his course load. And for the past seven years, he has taught with fellow geometer Tracy Lyons.
“I can only imagine that working with him for seven years on this geometry course is going to be one of the most formative things for our students but also us as educators—thinking about how to change a course, how to update it, how to make it accessible,” said Lyons. “I love teaching it for lots of reasons, but one of the main ones is that for seven years I got to create it with Mr. Schuler.”
As colleagues teaching what Lyons sometimes calls “the black sheep of math courses” for its mixed reviews among students and imperfect reputation with teachers, and as desk neighbors in the math office, they formed a strong friendship.
“Just being in the math office with him is really enjoyable. He can be really serious and you can have a really interesting conversation with him about a tough topic. He can also help you work through something that you are challenged by, but he can also just look up and have something goofy that he wants to share or he can have a joke and just lighten the mood. We always have a good time in there,” said Lyons.
The two took their friendship to the stage in their annual appearances at teacher karaoke.
Their inaugural year they even won first place, and though they struggled to reclaim the podium again in the years since, their enjoyment of the event—and Schuler’s stage presence—never faltered.
As if his musical talent were not enough, Schuler frequented the teacher-student basketball game, bringing to the court skills associated with his legendary block against Lebron James from his high school days in northeast Ohio. This most recent basketball season, he shared some of that talent, coaching the freshman basketball team with science teacher Kent Kershenski.
“It was very different than what I was used to in a coach—instead of yelling and having a negative reaction, he would take a more calm approach and use our mistakes as teaching moments,” said freshman Kalil Turner. “He was always selfless and trying to help the team on and off the court.”
The team appreciated his non-threatening approach to coaching, as well as the occasional Saturday practice dunk to lighten the mood.
Schuler’s largest extracurricular area of interest and impact is undoubtedly social justice.
“After my second year, I felt a call to be more involved in the social justice and service aspects of SLUH,” said Schuler.
He became involved in a number social justice-oriented organizations and activities, leading trips to multiple sites, attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, traveling on spring break immersion trips, and more.
It was a way for him to sink his teeth into the life and culture of SLUH and sample a wide variety of activities he was passionate about. He became involved in the Association for Cultural Enrichment at SLUH (ACES), and eventually became assistant moderator and then moderator, working closely with Director of Equity and Inclusion Frank Kovarik.
“That has been some of my most exciting and fulfilling work at SLUH,” said Schuler.
He helped organize and lead the first Philia retreat and those after it, and played an instrumental role in organizing community-wide discussions about race following the events in Ferguson and the Stockley verdict.
“It’s been a joy to work with Mr. Schuler. He’s a great listener, he is a very gentle person with a great sense of humor,” said Kovarik. “One of the things that I always appreciated about Mr. Schuler was somebody that I could always go to if I was kind of at my wits end or needed to just bounce an idea off of somebody. The door was always open, and he was always there to listen.”
Schuler worked to help set up new affinity groups like the Black Student Union (BSU) and Hispanos y Latinos Unidos. His equity and inclusion work covers a broad section of SLUH’s work on the topic of race and racial justice.
“Mr. Schuler was always supportive and made me feel like my issues mattered through ACES and even with his support for BSU,” said BSU president Jordan Smith. “I always felt like I could come to talk to him whenever I was going through something or just needed some advice.”
Come fall, Schuler will be teaching math at St. Ignatius High School, an all-boys Jesuit high school in Cleveland. He looks forward to raising his growing family near his Cleveland-based clan.
“This isn’t exactly the timeline we wanted, and we would’ve loved to have a lot more time to say goodbye, but ultimately this felt like a really great opportunity for us, even though it was a difficult discernment,” said Schuler. “It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to an institution that has helped me to grow so much, personally, professionally, and spiritually.”