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The Student News Site of Hazelwood West High School

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Teacher Spotlight: Kevin Kuschel

Teacher Spotlight: Kevin Kuschel

Navigating the nooks and crannies that reside in Hazelwood West High School, you’ll find a
small hallway that holds a teacher with a lasting impact. In room 151 lies Kevin Kuschel, West’s
Business Education Teacher.

While known for being a dedicated educator, what makes Kuschel unique is his resilience and
unwavering commitment to his students, despite being born with Spina Bifida, a condition he has
navigated with grace and determination his entire life.

His journey into becoming a teacher was far from linear and truly unexpected. While initially
majoring in Business, he found himself deterring from that path and searching for something
different. Kuschel states that it took a push from his parents to turn him into the world of teaching,
as they always believed that he would find success in doing so.

“Once I switched to education, everything changed…this is exactly what I wanted to do,” Kuschel

Kuschel’s parents may have opened his eyes to the education world but teaching was always
unconsciously there for Kuschel. As a young student Kuschel found love within writing, finding it
to be something he thoroughly enjoyed and excelled within its talents. AS an alternative for his
PE class, he found himself often tutoring other students in the subject area of English, helping
them with their papers at the writing center. He loved to help others and interact in any way that
he could. While his disability pulled him away from normality, he found a gift within. Now, he
celebrates 28 years of teaching.

A common question for Kuschel is how he is able to navigate effectively teaching while being in a
wheelchair. With the modern day advancements of technology, this question becomes a lot easier
to answer. At each chair in the classroom, there is a computer which allows Kuschel to efficiently
interact with his students. He capitalizes off of technology as he is able to share his screen onto
the computers when giving instruction, and being able to assist students through a question
support program.

The layout of his classroom makes interacting with students more efficient as it’s very spacious
and easy for Kuschel to use throughout the classroom. The only hardship that he finds himself
running into is the occasional backpack that’s in the way of his path.

Kuschel’s unmistakably unique perspective profoundly shapes his teaching approach, fostering
genuine connections with his students. Having experienced discrimination due to his disability,
he sympathizes with marginalized students who feel overlooked or misunderstood. His firsthand
understanding instills in him a deep sense of empathy, driving him to cultivate a positive
atmosphere in his classroom.

“One thing I try to do as a teacher is have a positive attitude, let students know that you can go
through a lot of bad circumstances but you can make it through it,” Kuschel said.

As he hopes to instill empathy within his students, he finds that reciprocating the same from
students can be at times quite challenging. He reflects on an instance where a student’s friend
laughs at him because of simply being in a wheelchair. Without taking it personally, he speaks to
the student and asks if they could tell their friend that it isn’t a big deal that your teacher is in a

“Students see me and laugh, until they get to know me… the wheelchair then disappears… “I’m
just like every other teacher, I’m just shorter,” Kuschel said.

In Kuschel’s classroom, he prioritizes promoting diversity, inclusion, and accessibility by
fostering a positive, open, and welcoming atmosphere. He believes in creating a relaxing
environment where every student feels valued and respected. Treating everyone fairly and
upholding mutual respect is fundamental to his teaching approach. Rather than making
assumptions about his students, Kuschel makes an effort to learn about each individual,
recognizing their unique backgrounds and experiences. He strives to ensure a relaxing
atmosphere that serves as a break for students rather than another familiar stressor.

“I used to have a chemistry teacher who took a yard stick and slammed it on the desk as hard as
possible. Was always on the edge and never wanted his classroom to be the same,” Kuschel said.

For Kuschel, his most memorable moment within his teaching career is when he finally really felt
a sense of understanding and support from his students. Kuschel reflects on when he used to teach
at Hazelwood’s Northwest Middle School, there he found himself having to escort a student for
bad behavior. The student then complained while referring to Kuschel with derogatory names that
the student’s over hearing classmates did not sit well with. The student’s passionately stood up
for their teacher, finding this out Kuschel found that moment to be both rewarding and healing as
he felt a sense of respect between him and as well his students. While Kuschel’s journey was far from smooth sailing, he hopes that other inspiring educators with
disabilities don’t feel discouraged.

“Don’t think it’s impossible,” Kuschel explains, “It’s all trial and error, see what works and
doesn’t work for you to be able to teach in the class effectively,” Kuschel said.
As he pushes other educators to continue to their path within the teaching field, he actively
advocates for accessibility and inclusivity within the educational community, making space for
others who live with disabilities.

“I’ve done seminars with teachers, educating them on how to interact with individuals with
disabilities, trying to help them navigate that process however I can,” Kuschel said.
Teaching is just one of his many passions, as constantly consuming facts and random
information is another. Outside of school Kuschel loves to go out with friends and dominate at
trivia nights.

“I have so many random facts in my head, I love to put it to good use,” Kuschel said.
He is such an avid trivia player that one of his bucket list activities is to be on Jeopardy,
showcasing his skills.

Family is also a huge part of Kuschel’s life as he tries his best to be as connected with them,
making sure to make time to see his nieces as much as he can.

Bringing fun inside the classroom, Kuschel states if he could have any superpower in the world to
use inside the classroom, he states that he would love to be able to fly around the classroom!
“I would love to be able to be as tall as some of the kids,” Kuschel said.

Sometimes he likes to play jokes on his students, lifting himself up from his wheelchair long
enough to appear as if he was standing. He laughs watching the kids turn to each other in shock
as they whisper to their friends, “He’s standing!”

Despite facing significant challenges, including a tragic fall and kidney failure that led to
hospitalization and interrupted teaching, Kuschel’s resilience shines through. Despite undergoing
dialysis three times a week to stay alive, he maintains an unwavering positivity, embracing each
day with renewed gratitude and energy. Though he had intended to retire this year, his passion
for teaching remains undiminished. His journey serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience
of the human spirit and the profound impact of unwavering dedication to one’s calling.

“I just have a renewed sense, realizing I do have this second chance of life… I’m alive and I
have more energy than ever,” Kuschel said.

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About the Contributor
Kennedi Bryant
Kennedi Bryant, Staff Writer
Hello! My name is Kennedi Bryant and I am a Senior at Hazelwood West High School. At school, I love to be involved in any way I can to explore the different values and passions that I have within myself. From finding joy in the acts of teamwork and determination through joining Varsity Lacrosse and, for the first time this year, the Tennis team, to giving back to my community and encouraging a sense of unity with participation in the PEP club, KEY club, and as well National Honor Society. With my last year in high school, I now find myself gravitating towards my interests within school as I explore my intrigue in reading with the fresh Book Club breaking out of my shell, and sharing my writing within Writers Week and now Newspaper! I am very excited about Newspaper this semester as I have always wanted to do this with aspirations to become a journalist. With this opportunity, I hope to gain as much experience as possible and expand my writing abilities!
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