Teaching and coaching remain Sauser’s career passions

MHS math teacher and high school cross country coach Dan Sauser thoroughly enjoys his job. Sauser has been teaching in Monticello since 2000. During his pre-calculus class, Sauser was seen assisting his students, encouraging them to work through the concepts. “I love the a-ha moments,” he said. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     Before Dan Sauser started teaching at Monticello High School in 2000, he had a major decision to make.

     At the time, Sauser was teaching mathematics at Marion High School.

     “I absolutely loved it there,” he said fondly. “I loved the school, the staff, the students, the classes.

     “I had to make a difficult decision in leaving, and I hated that.”

     Nineteen years later, Sauser said coming back to the very school district he attended growing up ended up being “a good fit.”

     At the time, Sauser said he received a call from then-high school principal Keith Stamp about an opening in the math department.

     “I really had to think about it,” said Sauser.

     Despite working in Marion, Sauser and his wife, Donna, were raising their family in Monticello.

     When it came down to the wire, Sauser picked up the phone to call Stamp, still not knowing what he was going to say or do. “So I just took it,” he said. “And I’m happy I made the decision.”

     Sauser’s teaching career took him to Winterset, Anamosa, Marion, and now Monticello.

     He said he’s always loved math, and knew he’d ultimately pursue a career in a math-related field.

     “I knew I wanted to do something with teaching and sports,” he said.

     Sauser started his college career at Iowa State University, diving into engineering.

     “That just didn’t capture my attention,” he said. “I didn’t think this was something I wanted to be doing for 30 or 40 years.”

     So, Sauser turned to education.

     “I would spend time tutoring in college and loved it,” shared Sauser.

     Sauser ended up transferring to the University of Iowa, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in education. He also has his coaching endorsement, and has been coaching cross country at MHS since he started in 2000.

     “I’ve coached a lot of sports,” recalled Sauser. “I love all sports, but running is my passion.”

     Sauser said he would coach more sports if time allowed, but also knows to keep that balance between work and family.

     “With being a full-time teacher and coaching, that’s time away from my family,” he said. (Cross country ends up being at least a six-month commitment.)

     Sauser also started pursuing his master’s degree through ISU, but took time at the end to focus on his son Kyle’s health.

     “I have all of the master-level course work done,” Sauser said. “I have the course content and knowledge.”

     When it comes down to the job and his passion for teaching, Sauser said he does it simply because of the students.

     “I love interacting with the kids. I love teaching and explaining the concepts, and seeing the light come on,” he said. “That a-ha moment never gets old.”

     Sauser teaches seven total upper-level meth classes for grades 10-12. His AP calculus class includes students from neighboring school districts who are bused to MHS for the course.

     Sauser said as a teacher, he’s tasked with making sure the students are proficient in the standards to successfully move on to the next level. He’s had several former students go on to pursue careers in math, engineering, and business.

     “They take a lot more math classes beyond here,” he said.

     As an educator and a coach, Sauser said students who excel outside of the classroom, whether in sports or the arts, typically excel better in the classroom, too.

     “You typically see an improvement and more effort in school as well as in sports,” he said. “Students build better relationships with their teachers and coaches.”

     Having taught at other schools in the past, Sauser sees the MCSD as a progressive district in wanting to improve education rather than remain stagnant.

     “They’re always improving teaching and learning as a result,” he said. “While change can be difficult and more work in the beginning, you end up seeing the benefit of that change in the end.”

     Sauser said when the district changed to Standards Reference Reporting versus the grading system, initially it came with a lot of work and stress. “We just hope the students’ learning is improving,” he said.

     The Sauser family enjoys spending time together. “We make it a priority to involve our kids,” said Sauser of Ella, sixth grade, and Nathan, eighth grade.

     Sauser, himself, likes to go biking and remain active. He’s at the school early almost every morning, opening the weight room and taking advantage of his free time.

     “Working out is my passion,” he said. “It helps with stress. I try to do something active every day.”



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