Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School

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Meet Mrs. Maureen Steuernagel: Taking the Lead and Inspiring Her Students

Mrs. Maureen Steuernagel grew up the oldest in a family that included 17 children in Emsworth, PA.  As the senior sibling, she took on the role of teaching her brothers and sisters how to read, how to tie their shoelaces, and more.  “Teaching was in me.  Other things just weren’t as appealing,” she said, then added with a laugh, “I also like being in charge!”  This just might explain why you’ll often find Mrs. Steuernagel not only stepping up to the plate, but taking the lead in a variety of school projects and activities.

The 2020-2021 school year marks the 29th year Mrs. Steuernagel has served as a member of the English department at OLSH and throughout her tenure, she has been very involved with moderating activities, attending events, and even working in the school’s development office early in her time at the school.

Mrs. Steuernagel teaches 9th grade English classes as well as the Felician Core Values class to freshmen and transfer students.  She also serves as guide and mentor for the Senior Seminar course, Felician Values Fulfilled, which invites the 12th graders to reflect on the Felician Core Values and how they have impacted their time at OLSH.  This year-long project includes performing service, job shadowing, participating in a water usage challenge and creating a video presentation of their transformation before a panel of faculty members and Felician sisters.  Mrs. Steuernagel, who developed the curricula for both courses, that serve as a distinguishing hallmark here at OLSH, is assisted by the entire school community, especially Mrs. Erica Hollabaugh, Mrs. Caitlin Snatchko, Mrs. Nancy Jarocki, and Mr. Eric Carothers, who incorporate aspects of the Seminar into their courses.

The community atmosphere is just one thing about OLSH that Steuernagel enjoys. As a veteran teacher, she appreciates the diversity of the OLSH faculty.  “We have everything from first-year teachers to individuals with up to 30 years of experience,” she remarked.  “Some are alumni parents and others are themselves OLSH graduates.” 

Mrs. Steuernagel attended Duquesne University where she received her BS in Elementary and Secondary Education.  In addition to her teaching duties, Mrs. Steuernagel serves on the SAP (Student Assistance Program) team and is the Character Alliance Co-Coordinator along with school counselor Mrs. Darcy Pihlblad.  The Character Alliance activity promotes a “Dare to Be” attitude.  Students in the activity perform a monthly service activity such as helping with the back-to-school party, or offering hot chocolate and candy canes during the holiday season.

Her caring, positive, and supportive attitude is loved and appreciated by students who never forget her catchphrase, “Stay safe and make smart decisions.” Mrs. Steuernagel is often quoted in students’ remarks delivered at commencement, in fact. She commented, “While there is diversity reflected in our student demographics, teenagers all have the same dreams and angst, and are looking to find out who they are.”  As far as her teaching philosophy goes, Mrs. Steuernagel likes to “meet her students where they are” while at the same time encouraging them to do more and pushing them to realize who they can be. While she has been fulfilled in many ways as a teacher, she noted that a former student who is now a colleague told her that she became an English teacher because of Mrs. Steuernagel’s influence, and that makes her very proud.

Mrs. Steuernagel cares deeply about her family. She is the proud mom of four children, two of whom are OLSH alumnae, and has four grandchildren. It makes her happy that they all live within an hour of each other since family time is most important. Her leisure time is spent gardening and reading.  She loves to read the “frivolous stuff” as she calls it, as well as books about the Civil War and other historical fiction.  She makes time to regularly meet with her family members and friends, whether it be to get together for breakfast or go for a stroll.   

Ultimately, however, Mrs. Steuernagel truly enjoys teaching.  “Summer is good,” she remarked, “but I am ready to come back when school resumes. I just love what I do!” Her passion for her vocation and her strong presence in all things OLSH are just two reasons why Mrs. Steuernagel inspires her students in so many ways.