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by Dru WaltersStudent Contributor

Alice Lloyd College is known for producing the best teachers in the Appalachian region which is due, in no small part, to the efforts of education professor, Dr. Steve Herr.  Even in his spare time, Dr. Herr insists that he is always reading and building on his own education. “That,” he says, “is part of what keeps the mind active.” Dr. Herr has been published in several of the most prominent professional journals of education in the United States including the prestigious Phi Delta Kappan, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Education Week. He is also a former member of the editorial board for the Journal of Cooperative Education, a peer-reviewed journal featuring work by American educators.

However, education did not always figure largely in Dr. Herr’s life. He said, “Growing up, I didn’t think that higher education was an option.” Dr. Herr was fortunate enough to receive money through several means such as numerous scholarships which assisted him in completing his undergraduate studies at Antioch College, a work-study college in Ohio that is similar to ALC. Through determination and hard work, Dr. Herr furthered his education by going to graduate school at Columbia University, where he received his Master of Education in 1986 and his Doctorate of Education in 1994.

While his belief in the importance of work-study colleges and the mission of Alice Lloyd College prompted him to apply for a position on the banks of Caney Creek, Dr. Herr recalls that he first heard of ALC in 1996, while teaching at Tennessee Wesleyan University.

“TWU’s basketball team had just played ALC and got beat. They got beat badly,” Dr. Herr remembers. “I couldn’t believe it. Who were these kids from the mountains that could play ball with so much grit? It was fascinating. I told my student-athletes then that it didn’t matter how much bigger and/or how much faster or much more talented they thought they were. If you can’t play a full game, you’re going to get beat.”

Dr. Steve Herr (back right) with ALC graduates and fellow Education Professors.

Twenty years passed before Dr. Herr ever set foot in Pippa Passes, but he would use the example of that game and how Alice Lloyd College played, to show educators how they should approach their work in the classroom. Dr. Herr now recognizes that ALC’s Purpose Road Philosophy creates model educators with resiliency, positivity, and a hard work ethic. He considers his arrival on Caney Creek to be bringing his career full circle.

Dr. Herr and his wife Ann have three children: Sarah, Abby, and Anja. He is also fond of his furry friend Emma, the shelter dog he and Ann adopted last spring. In addition to teaching education classes, Dr. Herr will also teach Political Science classes in the fall, playing the “full game” in every aspect of his career. Dr. Herr knows that the Purpose Road is long and challenging, but also that it brings like-minded individuals together on the same path to success, happiness, and understanding. “Education,” he says, “is the key to all things” – just as ALC founder, Mrs. Lloyd, believed over 100 years ago.