Originally Published: June 25, 2010 10:05 p.m.
After 14 years of putting his all into his students at Prescott High School, Rod Schuler is poised to refocus that energy into families at Harvest Bible Chapel as its new Family Ministries Director.
Schuler retired this month, having taught chemistry and Advanced Placement chemistry at PHS, as well as coaching multiple sports during his time there.
"I loved teaching at Prescott High School all the way through the very last day. I had the opportunity to work with an outstanding faculty and staff, and the greatest students I could ever imagine," Schuler said. "I can't tell you how strange it felt to be walking out of Room 511 for the last time."
A 1989 graduate of PHS, Schuler's dream had always been to teach and coach as a Prescott Badger. He returned to the school after receiving his chemistry degree at Northern Arizona University in 1995, and later earned his master's degree in educational leadership, also from NAU.
"Nobody wanted to lose 'Mr. Prescott'!" says PHS Principal Totsy McCraley, who admits she teared up when he announced his resignation. "He will really be missed because he had such an effect on kids. They respected him, and he respected them. It was mutual."
Schuler, she said, was always very up-front with her, and she knew that his priorities were "God, his family, and his school, in that order. He said he'd prayed about it a long time and believed this new position wasn't something he could pass up."
Of the 19 vacant positions McCraley had at the end of this year, Schuler's is the only one that has not been filled, but she anticipates they will have a replacement before the year starts. "It will be a year of transition, for sure. Those are some really big shoes to fill."
Jessica Penner, a 2004 PHS graduate, agrees, noting that Schuler was a teacher who truly cared about his students. "He just exuded school spirit, and he always went above and beyond in his teaching. I use things he taught me then in my nursing career now."
She remembers that his classroom was filled with ceiling tiles painted with Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, created by his students. McCraley laughs that those tiles now are spread among classrooms all over the school, snatched up by teachers who wanted to "keep a little piece of 'Mr. Prescott.'"
As much as he loved teaching and working at PHS, Schuler says he was even more excited about the opportunity to teach men and women for Christ at Harvest. "I'm moving from a position I truly loved into a ministry position that motivates me more than anything I have ever been associated with."
Schuler's move into ministry is a natural one. While attending NAU, he was youth pastor for three years at Mountain View Baptist Church, and also was interim youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Prescott. Since his family began attending Harvest Bible Chapel four years ago, Schuler has led and mentored several small home groups, as well as teaching in the Liferock children's ministry for fourth- and fifth-grade students. His wife, Kim, has been Children's Ministry Director at the church for about three and a half years. They have four children: Ryan, 15; Sarah, 14; Micah, 13; and Emily, 8.
As Family Ministries Director, Schuler's goal is to help men and women understand the roles God designed for spouses and parents. According to Schuler, Harvest wants to encourage and equip families to become strong disciples of Jesus Christ, and thus see families that are more devoted to each other and more obedient to God. He sees Harvest as the perfect place to serve because it's "filled with real people who have real struggles, but have a real Savior in Jesus Christ. Harvest is committed to prayer, worship and teaching God's word."
Rod Schuler is a perfect fit for the vital family pastor position at Harvest, according to Senior Pastor Jon Gaus. "Our Elder team is very excited that Rod is bringing with him such a strong background in public education, previous ministry experience, a wonderful reputation in the community and a heart fully committed to Christ."
Harvest Bible Chapel meets at 6 p.m. Saturday and 8:45 and 10:45 Sunday mornings at 6711 E. 2nd St. in Prescott Valley, one block south of Highway 69. For more information about Harvest, call 771-2450, or visit harvestprescott.org.