Dr. Richard Overfelt teaches a graduate class at Truman State University to help other teachers to become more engaged with their students and rediscover their passion for their profession. The 88-year old retired principal says that singing and dancing are all part of the formula of getting teachers to lighten up and enjoy the work that they do. He teaches them how to teach without taking themselves too seriously.
“I teach that if the heart is empty, it doesn’t make any difference how full the head,” says Overfelt. Richard views his class as a way to help teachers rediscover the joy of their craft. Most teachers that take his class are either burned out or exhausted from the profession of teaching. There is also a lot of pressure on today’s teachers to make sure that their students perform according to a certain standard.
“He kept me in the profession when I was ready to get out,” said Ken Wolfe, an English Language Arts teacher. “He showed me that I need to just close my door and teach and relate to the kids and meet them where they were.”
“They’re engaged, and to the kids that may not have been as engaged it’s a game to them,” said Kindergarten Teacher Amy Fitch after applying what she learned from Overfelt’s class. “They’re learning and they don’t even realize it.” Fitch says that Overfelt helped her find her love for singing, which she now applies to her classes and shares with her young students.