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Rockwood School District
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Profile of a Rockwood Learner: Hayden Steinkuehler, Rockwood South

In Rockwood, we strive to do whatever it takes to ensure all students realize their potential. Our goal is to cultivate Rockwood learners​ who think creatively and critically; engage thoughtfully and respectfully; develop strong character; collaborate with others; and explore our world.

Over the final month of the 2020-2021 school year, we will be celebrating fifth-, eighth- and 12th-grade students from around Rockwood who embody these characteristics and reflect the hopes, dreams and aspirations we hold for every child in our school community.

Today, we feature Rockwood South Middle eighth-grader Hayden Steinkuehler.

Hayden Steinkuehler loves animals. At home, she has a chinchilla, a cat and a dog, along with a horse named Spencer that she enjoys riding. Becky Sebelski, her seventh-grade geography teacher at Rockwood South, remembers how Hayden would frequently share cool videos about wildlife or the environment with her as potential resources for the rest of the class.

Hayden earns very good grades, loves to play golf, is involved with National Junior Honor Society and was recently honored by state Representative Shamed Dogan as one of Rockwood South's 14 Glory of Missouri award winners, for Virtue.

"When he came into the classroom to get a couple of the students out, I thought we were in trouble. Like, seriously in trouble," she said, with a laugh. "But then we went into the school administrators' office, and I got this award. If people didn't know my story at all, they wouldn't expect that anything happened."

Last July, Hayden, her mother and father were victims of a serious boating accident. Her mother, Marie, passed away, and Hayden and her father, Brad, were hospitalized with traumatic head injuries.

She worked her way back into learning during the district's virtual start to the school year and, once Rockwood South's doors opened for in-person classes Nov. 5, she returned to the halls.

"It's unthinkable. Her progress in school -- and help from her teachers and friends – have made my recovery much easier," Brad said. "I don't even have to have to ask her, and she's on top of her game nonstop. I couldn't ask anything else. I can't say enough positive or good things – which everyone else always says and I would just be repeating – considering what she's become already and what she has been through."

The entire Fenton community has supported the family through their recovery. A GoFundMe page set up by their cousin even drew interest from complete strangers.

"The support from people we know, people we don't know, everyone, it's indescribable," Brad said. "We're very fortunate."

Hayden said she has enjoyed the deep connections she has made with teachers such as Karen Sz​weda, Sebelski and Amy Krue​ger during her time at Rockwood South. She also said it has been fun to learn from some of the same educators – including science teacher Charles Ruble and physical education teacher Doug Robinson – who taught Brad when he went to Rockwood South and was part of the first graduating class at Rockwood Summit High​. Brad attended Kellison Elementary, and Hayden went to Stanton Elementary.

"She's just a good friend to everybody, really tries her hardest," Sebelski said. "She has been able to focus, work hard and overcome everything from this past year. She is just fabulous."