It’s a new game plan for Cleburne Assistant Coach Ryan Stepp, who was named an assistant principal at Wheat Middle School following approval by Trustees at Wednesday’s called school board meeting.
“I am super happy for him,” Cleburne ISD Athletic Director Jeri Larrison-Hall said. “I know in his longtime career goals as an educator this is something he wants. It’s also hard for him and Coach (Ross) Taylor. Ryan’s been with the baseball program a long time.”
Stepp, who is a 2004 graduate of Cleburne High School, began his career in education in 2009 at Smith Middle School where he was a science teacher and coach. In 2011, he moved to the high school where he has been serving as a special education inclusion teacher, including department chairman, and an assistant coach in the baseball and football programs. The past several seasons, Stepp served as Taylor’s first assistant coach for Cleburne varsity baseball and he also coached cornerbacks and safeties for Yellow Jacket varsity football.
Hall, who spent several years on the high school faculty with Stepp, said his ability to relate to students makes him a great choice for the administrative position at Wheat.
“He has such a great connection with kiddos and that will go a long way in building relationships with the Wheat students,” she said. “He’ll be using some of his coaching skills, along with the other tools he has gained from his background and experiences in education. Ryan will do a wonderful job preparing his middle school students for high school. I’m very excited for him — he’ll be great.”
Stepp fills the administrative vacancy created by the resignation of Assistant Principal Landon Smith.
Stepp is a 2008 graduate of Hardin-Simmons University, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Behavioral Science. He also played baseball for Hardin-Simmons. In 2019, he was awarded a Master of Education Degree from Lamar University.
He decided to begin postgraduate studies to obtain a Master’s degree, knowing at some point he wanted to transition from the classroom — and ball field — into administration.
“I knew I wanted to get it done because I did want to go into administration,” Stepp said. “I wanted to be ready when the opportunity came. I love coaching and prayed long and hard about this next step. It’s going to be great for me and my family. I’m excited.”
Stepp also feels he’s prepared for the world of middle school learners, having started his teaching career with that age group.
“I enjoyed my two years at Smith,” he said. “I loved it — it was the coaching world that took me to high school. Middle school kids are dealing with a lot of transition taking place in their lives. It’s a fun time and a crazy time for them. I will enjoy giving them guidance. When the job at Wheat came open, I jumped on it.”
Wheat Principal Suzanne Keesee, who was in attendance at the school board meeting, first met Stepp when he was a student in her eighth-grade science class.
“He was a model student — one of those kids you wish you had a room of,” Keesee said. “You could see the potential in him then. I am so proud of Ryan and how he’s grown into a great teacher — and now an administrator. He’ll hit the ground running here at Wheat. He’s familiar with the building because he went to school here, and he knows a lot of our teachers and coaches. He will fit right in with our administrative team. I’m excited for him, and our school, knowing how much he will be helping our kids and loving them along the way.”
Stepp says that while he’s ready to transition to his new game plan, he remains a power hitter for the Jackets and in his passion for the game of baseball.
“I definitely bleed black and gold, as does my whole family,” he said. “You’ll still see me at the games — on the outside of the fence — cheering on the Jackets.”