Stewart leaves lasting history

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Stewart pictured in his last year(2020) and first year(2005) teaching at Trinity. Stewart gives a token of advice to students: “Leave the world a better place than when you walked into it. Not what are you doing for yourself, but what are you doing for others.”

Amy Qiao, Layout Editor

Social Science Department Chair and Teacher Samuel Stewart has confirmed his resignation following his leave of absence at the beginning of his year. Recently moving back to his home state of Ohio, Stewart has sold his house in Orlando. 

After teaching at Trinity for 15 years, Stewart was hesitant to come back because he didn’t want to risk catching the virus and potentially spreading it to his wife. After he saw the spikes in Florida’s COVID-19 cases, Stewart knew he couldn’t stay in Florida. 

“When we had like 15,000 cases a day, I just wanted out of Florida,” Stewart said. “The whole Ohio state government approach to recover from [COVID-19] is much more organized and locked down than Florida is. I mean I’m watching DeSantis go to rallies with no mask on, giving high fives to people in the crowd.”

Stewart still plans to continue his teaching career in Ohio, whether that be through online teaching or tutoring. When a vaccine comes out for COVID-19, he plans to part-time or substitute teach.

Although the faculty and students miss his endearing presence on campus, his footprint is forever marked at Trinity through his remodeling of the Social Science Department. Adding a myriad of new courses such as AP Microeconomics/Macroeconomics, Honors Economics, AP European History, and AP Comparative Government into the curriculum, Stewart sought to give students more freedom to pursue their academic interests. He also hired Social Science teachers Kelly Aull, Isaiah Cabal, Robin Grenz, and Brian Brown. 

“I think I left [the department] better than I found it,” Stewart said. “That was my goal.”

The old department chair before Stewart came to Trinity required all students to take AP U.S. History (APUSH) following AP World History. However, Stewart realized that most students, especially at a STEM excelling high school, should focus on the courses that they enjoy the most and shouldn’t be required to take APUSH. He then introduced Honors American History into the curriculum— a class he thoroughly enjoys teaching since he can formulate a unique course plan without restrictions from the College Board. 

“I wanted to use Law & Order episodes to emphasize different things covered in the curriculum,” Stewart said. “I had the flexibility to do that with that class. I made the class challenging so my students could go and take an AP exam if they wanted to. I enjoyed doing that.”

In 2005, he took over the Varsity Girls Basketball team that had three different coaches in the last three years. Although it was difficult taking over a team with no stable leadership, Stewart would lead the team for 10 years, winning two District championships along the way. 

“I came out of 20 years of running the [basketball] program in Ohio,” Stewart said. “I mean I was established there. [At Trinity], I had to start building the attitude among these people… I [took] a bunch of different personalities and tried to blend them together so we could be successful. That was fun.”

Stewart also led the History Bowl team since it was first created in 2015, winning four Florida State Championships in a row. The JV team, which senior Enzo Cunnan was in at the time, placed second at nationals out of the 125 teams.  

“He was so supportive to develop my potential in History Bowl,” Cunnan said. “He was always there for me whenever I felt defeated….He had this sense of camaraderie and you felt very familiar with him. Everyone calls him Stew.”

Stewart pushed for his students to get involved in politics by including different conversations about current events into history lessons. During the 2016 election, he encouraged all his eligible students to vote and even went to the Boys and Girls club to teach younger kids about the election process. 

“He is very opinionated in politics,” Cunnan said. “I could banter back and forth with him. I used to talk to him a lot about politics. I miss that.”

Over his last 15 years at Trinity, Stewart has accumulated a trove of mementos gifted from his students— each object holding a memory made at Trinity. 

A pop art Campbell soup poster signed and gifted by one of his AP European History classes now hangs in his Ohio residence. When teaching his classes about labor relations in history, he would share memorable stories of working at a Campbell Soup factory. 

“I really found it helpful how he related whatever we were learning about to his real life because it made the concepts a lot easier to remember since they were really interesting,” said senior LuLu Garnett. “[The stories] brightened my morning.”

His students thought the poster was the perfect memorabilia of Stewart’s past since his great grandfather’s advertising company designed the Campbell soup label. 

Stewart has also kept a basketball signed by the Varsity Girls team he led to victory in the 2014 districts—one of his favorite moments coaching at Trinity. 

“We beat Mount Dora Bible at their gym to win the district championships,” Stewart said. “That was awesome.”

While Stewart is not very fond of the cold weather in Ohio, he is happy to be closer to his family where he can spend more time with his grandchildren. 

“[My grandchildren] live four houses away. They come back from the ice cream shop and bring us a pint of ice cream,” Stewart said. “I mean how do you beat that?”