Steve Unruhe has been actively committed to public schools in Durham for three decades. He has been both a vocal defender of Durham Public Schools and a strong advocate for better schools for all of our children.
Steve moved to Durham for love, in 1982, leaving his native California to marry Jennifer McGovern. They have raised two daughters who both graduated from Durham Public Schools. Molly now lives in San Antonio where she is married, the mother of one son and finishing law school; Katie is also married, lives in Durham and teaches at Northern High.
Steve worked as a bread baker at Ninth Street Bakery while pursuing certification in mathematics education at North Carolina Central University. He began his career at Northern in 1986 and helped to open Riverside in 1991. He taught every level of math and computer science, and his journalism staffs won numerous state and national awards. He retired this past July.A passionate and devoted teacher who remained in the classroom for his entire career, Steve received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching in 1997. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Journalism Education Association in November, 2015. He was a National Board Certified Teacher. Steve has served as chair of both the Northern and Riverside school improvement teams, and twice chaired principal search committees. He has served as a mentor teacher in both mathematics and journalism.
Beyond the classroom, Steve served two terms as president of the Durham Association of Educators, playing a lead role in the merger of the city and county organizations in advance of the merger of the two school systems. He was co-leader for Durham in the national Leadership in Urban Mathematics Reform program. He served two terms on the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee and was a member of the district High School Reform committee. Steve was also president of the Durham Toxic Action Coalition in the early 1980’s, and co-authored a paper documenting racial discrimination in Wilson, NC, for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Over the course of his career, Steve has written and spoken often on issues of public education. In the past few years, Steve initiated a campaign (“Wear Red”) in support of public education in Durham and across the state. He has also written a series of columns in the Durham News. Those articles are available here.
Steve grew up in the Methodist Church (his middle name is Wesley). He served as a mission intern in a human rights office in Hong Kong after graduation from college. He is now a Presbyterian elder at the Church of Reconciliation.
A life-long athlete, Steve has spent countless hours chasing bouncing balls of various shapes and sizes in pretty much every sport. He now concentrates his efforts on tennis.