Alumni Spotlight: Susan Hauser Maynor ’86
Service and leadership, collaboration and creativity, hard work and excellence. Susan Maynor believes these defining disciplines, ingrained in her as a student at Westminster, shaped her life personally, academically, and spiritually. In fact, it was in the midst of her high school career that Susan determined she wanted to return to Westminster one day to be a teacher, due in no small part to the impact and influence of her own teachers. “Sara Drexler taught me to be a servant leader well before senior service,” says Susan. “Her investment in me as a person, as a Christian, and as a female made a lasting impact on me.”
Mrs. Drexler’s encouragement and example inspired Susan to demonstrate a servant’s heart in practical ways. She vividly remembers helping prepare for Westminster’s first Christmas Banquet, when she devoted hours to decorating for the special event for her fellow students. Experiences like this taught Susan the importance of approaching her life and work with a divine focus. “Mrs. Drexler taught me to see beyond myself, into a broken world in need of knowing the gospel.”
Her desire to impact the world for Christ was fueled by a passion for creativity and collaboration, which was also nurtured at Westminster through the many opportunities she had to participate in school musicals. “I was in Westminster’s first-ever musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, in 1986,” says Susan. “I had the opportunity to be the choreographer for the first three musicals at Westminster because of the director Betsey Tyvoll.” Under Mrs. Tyvoll’s guidance, Susan began to explore the creative process and learned about the grace and perseverance involved in the preparation and production of any creative work. “I had never created anything so big nor so elaborate,” says Susan. “But Mrs. Tyvoll had faith in me, and she invested in me and helped me through the process.”
Through it all, Susan distinctly remembers Scott Holley’s influence in her life as a student, as he inspired her to always pursue excellence in everything. “[Dr. Holley] invested in me and provided me feedback both academically and spiritually—always with great insight and wisdom,” says Susan. Equipped with this drive to do her best, Susan went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wheaton College and a master’s degree in communications from Lindenwood University.
Early in her career, Susan spent several years teaching 6th grade at an independent school in Los Angeles, where she had the opportunity to start an after-school musical theatre program in which she wrote and directed several productions for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. In 1999, her high school dream to move back to St. Louis—and to Westminster—came to fruition. “God eventually opened doors for me to return to Westminster to teach,” says Susan. “I joined the 7th grade team and taught English and geography. I also taught upper school communications classes, including creative writing, graphic design, web design, and video storytelling.” Additionally, Susan helped direct and choreograph a number of school musicals, drawing from her own high school experiences in musical theatre.
“As both a Christian and a passionate educator, I want to serve in whatever capacity God calls me,” says Susan. In 2012, that meant relocating with her husband Todd and two sons Max (11) and Briggs (9) to Kansas City, where she currently works at an elementary charter school downtown. This year, Susan has worked to build a technology-rich, problem-based learning enrichment program for students in grades 3–6. “Our students produce videos for the downtown community, design their own creative works for local galleries, and participate in competitions,” says Susan. She also recently connected with the administration of Liberty Public Schools to assist in developing a new pilot elementary school, opening in August 2014, and she is a partner in Han’s Media, a small company for which she writes and designs digital communication pieces.
With nearly 20 years of teaching experience in both public and independent schools, Susan firmly believes in the value of Christian schooling to instill in students an understanding of who God is and to challenge them to think and act redemptively. “I believe that Christian education is an opportunity for young people to not only educate their minds but also to educate their hearts and spirits—and to begin to understand the redemption story that is in the fabric of our universe,” she says. Susan says that her time at Westminster helped grow her personal faith and equip her to make a difference in the world. “Westminster provided me a solid foundation of faith and learning, upon which I experienced the power of the cross and the beauty of the gospel,” she says. “I’ve often reflected that the cultivation of my faith during my high school years equipped me to better understand and traverse the challenges and brokenness of this world.”