Muskingum News


Spotlight on GCS: James Sturtevant ’83
James S

Muskingum University Graduate Studies Lecturer James Alan Sturtevant ‘83 shares his expertise developed during 34 years as a high school social studies teacher. He focuses on student engagement, on which he has authored five books and hosts a podcast.

“A Muskie all the way,” James grew up in New Concord, where his father David Sturtevant was a Muskingum Professor of History (1955-1994). After his Muskingum graduation, James earned a Master of Arts Degree from The Ohio State University.

James retired from his high school teaching career in 2019 and his journey came full circle back to Muskingum, when he began teaching graduate level courses in the Education department. “Every semester comes around and I end up back teaching again because I have fun and enjoy it,” he reflected.

His route to becoming an author began during his high-school teaching. “While having a student teacher in my classroom, I noticed some students loved him or were resistant toward him. We worked together to stop that resistance,” he said. During a conversation with his student teacher’s University advisor, he was asked how he created a positive culture in his classroom.

This question sparked his curiosity, leading him to write his first book, You’ve Gotta Connect: Building Relationships That Lead to Engaged Students, Productive Classrooms, and Higher Achievement (2014).

You've Gotta Connect

“Writing books was not on my bucket list,” James recalled, “I sent my manuscript to about 500 publishers, and only one said yes.” After the publisher of his first book requested that he write further on how to engage students, new ideas led to three publications in the Hack Learning Series: Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily (2016),  Hacking Engagement Again: 50 Teacher Tools That Will Make Students Love Your Class (2017), and Even More Hacking Engagement: 50 New Ways to Make Learning Fun for All Students (2023).

Hacking Engagement
Hacking Engagement Again
Even More Hacking Engagement

The Hack Learning series books paved the way for Sturtevant’s podcast “Hacking Engagement,” with more than 160 episodes recorded so far. He also authored Teaching in Magenta: 100 Paths to Joy and Well-Being for You and Your Students (2020).

Teaching in Magenta

He explained that the atmosphere at Muskingum “led to my curiosity of the world. Muskingum helped create all possibilities and made me open to opportunities.”

Building friendships and connections were also an important part of his time as Muskingum. “I'm 62-years-old and can still call up old friends and feel like I am back at Patton Hall,” he laughed.

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