Steve and Valerie Doerr: Educators and artists create a scholarship legacy for Kappa Alpha
Steve and Valerie Doerr
Steve Doerr, Phys’72, grew up thinking that he would follow in his father’s engineering footsteps. But a physics class changed all that.
“I knew I wanted to go to Rolla because I was planning on becoming a mechanical engineer like my dad,” says Doerr, whose brother, Ray, ME’69, was already a student there. “My senior year in high school, I had a physics class with a fantastic teacher, Mr. Herb Joerling. As a result, I decided to get my degree in physics.”
During his junior year at S&T, Doerr decided to earn his teaching certificate. “I realized that the level of math that I needed to really advance my career as a physicist was above my capability,” he says. “I decided to take advantage of the joint teaching certification program that Rolla had with the University of Missouri-Columbia. With this benefit, I was able to graduate with a physics degree and a teaching certificate.”
Doerr began his career as a high school math and physics teacher in St. Charles County, Missouri, where he met his wife, Valerie, who was also a teacher. During this time, he earned a master’s degree in secondary school administration from Northeast Missouri State University and a doctorate of education in public school administration from St. Louis University.
After serving as a middle school principal in Winfield, Missouri, Doerr was named to his first district leadership position as school superintendent in Edgemont, South Dakota. Over the next three decades, he went on to lead school districts in Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota. He also started making furniture and developed a serious passion for woodworking. “Because of my job, it would often take six months or more to finish a single piece of furniture,” he says.
In 2005 Doerr bought a lathe and took up woodturning. He began by making pens and expanded his portfolio to include bowls and vases. After retiring in 2010, he devoted himself full-time to making art and growing the business he founded with Valerie: the Wooden Doerr (www.thewoodendoerr.com). Today he and Valerie, who is also a wood-turner, sell their work at art shows throughout Missouri and other states.
With their shared passion for education, the Doerrs had always planned to establish a scholarship at Missouri S&T. After talking with their financial advisor, they decided to designate funds from their tax-deferred annuity to establish the Stephen and Valerie Doerr Endowed Scholarship. The endowment, which will fund scholarships for members of Kappa Alpha Order, recognizes the role that the fraternity played in Doerr’s undergraduate years.
“Many memories of my time at Rolla revolve around the friendships I developed at the KA House,” says Doerr. “We always did things together, from studying for tests to working on decorations for Homecoming and St. Pat’s to keeping the house clean. These experiences helped to develop some very strong friendships that have lasted long after graduation.”