During the school year, he meets with the debate team at least three days a week, in addition to most weekends. “It’s so intense and difficult and challenging to be able to compete with some of the best debaters in the country,” he said. “The less I do, the more they learn. I just have to present them with appropriate challenges and feedback.”
Ryden Butler, president of the debate team, said that Steinberg always makes sure the team is ready to compete successfully. “He really understands and remembers what it is to be a student,” Butler said.
Butler, a junior majoring in political science, history and economics didn’t participate in debate competitively until college.
“Debate really helps you in all of your classes,” he said. “It helps you talk about a number of subjects, and it teaches you valuable lessons about training and leadership.”
Under Steinberg’s leadership, Butler and his partner Ali Jessani won the Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha national championship held in March at the University of Florida.
Butler and a group of students nominated Steinberg for the award. They filled out forms, wrote essays and encouraged others to nominate him as well.
“If we could do anything to give back to Dave, it was a no-brainer,” Butler said. “We certainly tried as best we could.”
Although it’s clear that debate is his passion, his family — both immediate and debate-team — is most important to him. Photos of his family are visible in his office everywhere you look.
Debate team member Renee Reneau said that he’s been a father figure for her and the team. “I was the only girl, especially second semester. I never felt singled-out.”
Steinberg values a combination of effort and talent. “The level of respect he gives his students makes him different from other teachers,” Reneau said. “He’s also very good at providing constructive criticism.”
Reneau, a sophomore majoring in political science and intercultural communication, said her ability to solve problems has improved since she joined the debate team.
“His style is very much to throw his students into the deep end and watch them swim,” she said. “He assumes your intelligence is at a certain level. I’m (now) able to approach things with a different viewpoint.”