Middle school physical education teacher Steve Chen is leaving next year to “give the insurance business [his] full attention,” Chen said. He has worked at Farmers Insurance for the past five months as a producer agent.
“Basically, I am able to sell insurance, [whether] home, auto, or commercial, and basically I am the one that is able to enforce, or bind, as we say, a contract,” Chen said.
“I [have] the opportunity to stretch my skills outside of school,” Chen said. “I’ve been doing what I love, impacting students. And now I can have a bigger impact on families…educating people, helping people.”
Chen started his coaching career 19 years ago.
“I was first hired at Harvard-Westlake as a walk-on for volleyball,” Chen said. “I was the JV head coach and varsity assistant coach for my first six years with the boys…program.” Besides volleyball, Chen has also coached basketball, golf, tennis, and a year of football, he said. He is currently a PE teacher, as none of his sports are in season.
Chen coaches outside of school as well.
“The last two years I’ve been a director for the Santa Monica Beach Club,” he said.
“I can never get tired of sports,” Chen said. “Playing sports just takes me to a different place, a place where I don’t have to worry about the stressful real world, a place where I can feel young and really just be truly happy because I’m doing things I really enjoy, which is playing sports…and being challenged.”
Chen’s love of challenges pushed him to persevere even after he injured himself while playing basketball. Even after needing a titanium plate and four screws in his neck, Chen kept playing.
“Once you’re an athlete, you’re just 100 percent, like when you play an instrument,” he said. “You go with it. You don’t know anything else; it’s who you are.”
Because of his passion for sports and for coaching, Chen plans to stay in the athletic field after he leaves.
“I would like to be able to go back to coaching club volleyball and being a director for a club again…one of my goals has always been that every student has been acknowledged every day, just to say hi, just for them to be noticed,” Chen said of his pupils at school.
“They think nobody really notices them; nobody says hi; no one knows their presence,” Chen said. “[To] every student in my class, I at least say hi and see how they’re doing just to make them feel like their important and that someone cares. I care.”