In this issue: Spring 2019
Pivotal People: Stephen Haag
It’s rare to find someone who falls in love with a profession while still in high school. Meet Stephen Haag, who started teaching while—you guessed it—in high school.
As a sophomore in high school, Haag was already taking college classes when his high school math teacher asked him to teach his classmates to program a computer. This was in the late 1970s. “I fell in love with teaching then,” Haag said.
It must have been true love. Haag just began his 37th year of teaching at the college level.
And at Daniels, where he started in 1995, the students love him—and show it by lining up regularly for his classes.
One look at him and it’s easy to see the appeal. His blond hair is beyond shoulder length and he often wears shorts and flip-flops (and sometimes goes barefoot). “That’s who I am. I carry no pretense and truly believe that the uniqueness of every person should be celebrated and embraced.”
But the real appeal for Haag and his classes runs much deeper than what meets the eye. Haag is the director of entrepreneurship at Daniels. He has held the post for just two years but has already left an indelible mark by adding popular classes and competitions, and helping create an entrepreneurship minor in 2017 that’s drawing plenty of interest.
“I love [Daniels] and the focus on ‘doing business for the public good,’” he said. “Making money without making the world a better place is a waste of time.”
One program he has introduced proves that quote. It’s called the Compass Project and it hosts underserved high school students who get a full technology suite that includes laptops and training. Plus, they get to join college students to compete in a “Shark Tank” (ABC’s hit reality show) style competition.
Haag, an entrepreneur himself who dabbles in real estate and oil and gas, said his first real business was a nonalcohol team club back in the 1980s. “I loved it but failed miserably,” he said. “I did everything wrong you could possibly imagine. But I learned from my mistakes.”
He’s also a prolific writer and has authored or co-
authored 47 books. The one that makes him most proud is the book he wrote with his parents about how to teach English as a second language.
When asked why he believes students line up to take his classes, he said, “I’m only here for one reason: the success of my students.”
His motivation, he said, is about having an impact on young people’s lives.
“They want to change the world, and I want to give them the tools to do that,” Haag said. “I love to teach because being around young people keeps me young.”