Telling Our Story

photo provided by Maura Dingman

Christine Steinkuehler is a woman on the go- literally and figuratively. An avid runner, you can find Christine at the front of the pack in 5ks and other races throughout the Topeka area and beyond. She’s one of those people you can find running outside no matter how warm or cold it is. When yours truly ran his first 5k, I actually happened to run into Christine and she took the time to reassure a very nervous first timer that it would be okay and to “just have fun.”

All of the qualities that define Christine’s passion for running- perseverance, hard-work, dedication, willingness to help any and everyone- also define her work both professionally and in the community. Christine is the Gifted Facilitator and Scholarship Coordinator at Topeka West High School. Her work allows her to work with students on a variety of projects throughout the school year.

“…We are all constantly learning something new, doing something that we haven’t done before,” she notes. “..No two days are ever alike.”

Christine’s passion for learning is contagious and makes her the perfect fit for her role at Topeka West. Her passion, combined with her love for her community and considerable connections, allow her to facilitate unique opportunities for her students. This means everything from writing grants to purchase the materials for students to build a 3D printer, to organizing lectures from K-State faculty members.

Christine’s love of learning also translates to another of her passions: history. As a member of the Board of Trustees for the Shawnee County Historical Society, Christine loves telling stories from our community’s history.

My favorite thing about history in general is that it is stories, real people, and for me the “warts” make them more interesting, more human,

said Christine.

She relishes in finding connections between Topeka and other historic events/people.

For instance, did you know that Anthony Overton (the first black man to lead a major business conglomerate) lived in Topeka? His father was an emancipated slave who came to Topeka seeking a better education for his children (after having served in the Louisiana State House of Representatives). His father went on to become a successful businessman, and Overton St in East Topeka now honors his family’s legacy.

“How cool is that?” says Christine after relaying this story.

“Topeka is full of wonderful stories/people like this. It is up to us to keep them alive and ‘discover’ them.”

Her advice for others wanting to learn more about their community’s history? “Dive in! Even when you think that you don’t have time, there is never a good time.”

Christine’s relentless positivity shines through as she encourages others to “see the glass as half full.” She is known throughout the community for being a champion of Topeka. Her passion goes beyond her words as you can regularly find her giving tours, speaking to groups, volunteering, or doing other activities to tell her community’s story through history.

She’s quick to point out though that anyone can be involved with learning and sharing your community’s history. As she notes, all it takes is “…curiosity, perseverance and a commitment to research.”

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