At Chesterfield Career and Technical Center at Courthouse, Scott Steinruck is known as the “Oorah” guy. The former Marine said he tried to bring the Marine Corps into the classroom, but quickly realized that didn’t work. He instead used motivational techniques he learned in the Marine Corps to help motivate his students, but also learned how to temper that with compassion.
Steinruck went on to manage different companies after he left the Marines and was involved in information technology when it was a burgeoning industry. Working in IT was an easy transition for him because he used to take things apart and loved to figure out how they work. He started doing that with computers because he wanted to figure out how they got data from point A to point B.
After being invited to be a guest speaker at Meadowbrook High School and connecting with the students, Steinruck wanted to give back and eventually made the transition to education. He has been teaching at CCTC for 22 years and was involved in starting the Cisco Networking Academy program, where he teachers hardware, software and networking, with a heavy focus on cyber security.
“Everybody uses technology [and] everybody uses a phone, but they don’t know how to secure it, and now that we’re putting financial data on phones and using them to pay, people need to know how to secure those devices,” he said. “Most of my students pursue this as a career field, but even the ones [who] don’t love this class because they at least learn how to secure their own personal devices.”
Steinruck owns his own business and serves on the John Tyler Community College IT Advisory Board and the Richmond Technology Council. He and his students created Hack4Troops and raised $14,000 for Tech4Troops (a Henrico non-profit organization that refurbishes laptops and electronics for veterans).
He was nominated and selected for RVATech’s 2018 Chairman’s Award for his work in developing future workforce and is the first K-12 educator to win. He was also recognized by the county as a “teacher of the year.”
Steinruck describes himself as high-energy. He is passionate about what he teaches and wants to see his students succeed. He has been told his teaching style is unorthodox, but he said this benefits his students because he works with the business community and brings business leaders in to help.
“Rather than me just evaluate a project, we make it a team project where they present to my business partners, and then they critique the projects and tell them how to make it even better,” Steinruck said. “It’s more than just passing or failing students, it’s about developing students to make them better.”
He is proud of his class and keeps in touch with his former students. Some have gone on to work for different companies, including Uptime Solutions, GE and Amazon, and he said it is amazing to see them be successful.
“That’s more of a thing for me than awards because my students also take me out for steak dinners,” Steinruck said. “When they’ve made it, I say, ‘You’re gonna owe me a steak dinner, but only after you’re making more money than I make as a teacher.’ I had one come back at 19, and he said, ‘I’m ready to take you out for a steak dinner.’”