Educator Profile    Educators

Dr. Steve Woolf (KS '95)

Director of Wild Heart Teacher & JRI Hospitality Director of Corporate Culture

Wild Heart Teacher & JRI Hospitality Corporation
Divide, CO

At the time of the Award, Dr. Steve Woolf was:

Ottawa Middle School
Ottawa, KS

Biographical Information

Steve Woolf served 18 years as a Middle School Principal and 12 as a Superintendent of Schools before starting his own non-profit organization – Wild Heart Teacher.  Wild Heart Teacher provides keynotes, in-service, and retreats designed to rejuvenate and reenergize educators across our nation and Canada.  Steve hosts the retreats in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and they are life changing.  The JRI Hospitality Corporation is the primary sponsor of Wild Heart Teacher and Steve has agreed to be their director of corporate culture for their 2500 employees across the nation in exchange.  Because of this support, educators pay practically nothing to attend.

Since becoming a recipient of the Milken National Educator Award in 1995, Steve has been named state principal of the year again and has been inducted into many educator Hall of Fame’s across the nation as well as many other awards by a variety of organizations.  Steve is called upon to give keynotes and training across the nation and, most recently, internationally.  He is also the author of the book “Heart 2 Heart Teaching: Building An Enduring Legacy In The Lives Of Our Kids.”

During Steve’s last few years in Kansas he developed a school organization for students called WILD which focuses on getting kids outdoors and engaged in their environment.  Schools across the state started these clubs and Steve hosted annual state conferences for schools who had these clubs.

Steve received his Milken recognition as the principal of Ottawa Middle School in Ottawa, Woolf developed motivational strategies that inspired more than 20 precent of the students to earn a 3.8 grade point average, and more than half the student body to make the Honor Roll.  Programs Woolf created include T.E.A.M. Renaissance (Together Everyone Achieves More), a partnership between the school, parents, and community members.  He also created "Mr. Woolf's Breakfast Club," through which students from economically disadvantaged homes came to school on Saturdays to cook and eat breakfast, and then do homework together.  "If a kid doesn't have clothes or food, I take care of that," he said.  "If a kid doesn't have a friend, I take care of that.  I can't expect my staff to love kids, give their best and change lives if I don't lead by example."  In 1994, the Kansas Association of Middle School Administrators named Woolf the Middle School Principal of the Year. In 2006, Woolf received the Milo "Mike" Stucky Graduate Fellowship from University of Kansas's School of Education in recognition of his outstanding work as an administrator. 

Steve and his wife, Kellie, currently live just west of Pikes Peak in Colorado in what he calls “Paradise.”  This is only a half mile from where he holds the Wild Heart Teacher retreats.  In addition to being the father of three biological kids, since being a recipient of the Milken Award, Steve has adopted two of his students who needed homes.

Related Connections

Milestone: Steve Woolf (KS '95) Named KATFACS Administrator of the Year

Milestone: Steve Woolf (KS '95) Publishes 'Heart 2 Heart Teaching'

Additional Information


1985 Kansas State University, B.S., Kansas State University, M.S., University of Kansas, Ed.D.

Heart 2 Heart Teaching: Building An Enduring Legacy In The Lives Of Our Kids

Teaching From The Heart To The Heart - Keynote 2016 (Illinois School For The Deaf Staff)


Heart 2 Heart Teaching: Building An Enduring Legacy In The Lives Of Our Kids

Wild Kansas w/ Steve Woolf

WILD Kansas w/ Steve Woolf

Wild Kansas w/ Steve Woolf

Teaching From The Heart To The Heart - Keynote 2016 (Illinois School For The Deaf Staff)


2002 Jostens National Educators Hall of Fame

1993 Kansas Middle School Principal of the Year

School Climate and Culture, Project Based Learning, Conservation and Environmental Education