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Extraordinary Educator: Stephanie Powell

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Great communities have great schools. High Point Schools Partnership creates impactful connections between our schools and the wider community to ensure students and their families are supported and can reach their full potential in High Point schools.

Part of High Point Schools Partnerships’ mission is to improve the image of our schools through storytelling. Who better to tell the stories of High Point’s schools than the people experiencing it first-hand? In this series of articles, we will highlight our 2022 High Point Extraordinary Educators as we dive deeper into what keeps them motivated in the face of constant challenges.

2022 Extraordinary Educator: Stephanie Powell

Stephanie Powell started her teaching career at Southwest Guilford High School 7 years ago. She keeps coming back for the people. It is the staff of the school that pushes to make the school even better each year and support each other in their needs for support of what is best for the students. It is the connection that the school has with the community and the continuation to build that connection. 

Her Father, Aunt, Sister, and herself graduated from Southwest. She grew up in this community and thinks that is what drives her to continue teaching at Southwest and to continue making it great to give back to my community. 

Dr. Angela Monell, the principal of Southwest Guilford High School, describes Ms. Powell as a “Problem-solver, creative, and self-motivated”. Someone who is “organized, thoughtful, energetic, creative and gets the job done down to the details. She takes on leadership roles and problem-solves issues that impact the school community.“

According to Dr.Monell, Ms. Powell “has changed the game of English 10 by leading a fantastic team of teachers through a data-driven PLC and exposing students to their own data. Not only do the students look at their data, but the students also look at district data to better understand the global concept of where we fit as a school.”

Ms. Powell wants her students to know that “being an educator is my passion. Being an educator to me is more than just in my classroom, it is about being involved in the school.”

She goes on to say “It is about being a voice for the students in what is best for them and their education. This past school year I had a student ask me what exactly my role was in the school because he saw me doing a lot of different things. I want students to see that and know that I am dedicated not only to them as a student in my classroom, but also as a student in the school. Students leave my classroom knowing that when they leave, they are still one of my students. I will check on them and see how they are doing in the next level of English class that they have, or they can come to talk to me if they need a trusted adult to talk to. Education to me is about the whole school and not just my classroom which is why I stay involved in leadership roles and other things in the school to push and grow as an educator community in the school.”

Q: What inspired you to become an educator?

A: What inspired me to become an educator was seeing a teacher who was willing to be herself and instill a passion for learning in her students. Up until my junior year of high school, I was not a fan of English class. I did not enjoy reading and did not have a desire to read. That changed when I got into my Junior year English class. The class that I was in was a tough class. It was full of students like me who did not really enjoy reading but would do the work to get through the class. The way that she approached the class and got the students to be engaged in the readings, inspired me to want to start reading outside of class. It was a class that I looked forward to going to and felt welcomed into. It is what started my love of reading, and that was when I knew that I wanted to teach and be this inspiration for other students. This pushed me to feel more confident in my next English class in my senior year and to take more Creative Writing classes. I tell my students that I know not everyone is going to have a love of reading, but I want them to feel welcomed and inspired in my classroom to find what they are passionate about and to push toward their own goals of what they want. 

Q: What’s your teaching/leadership style?

A: My teaching and leadership styles revolve around collaboration. Collaboration for me is a major part of who I am and who I have become as an educator. For teaching, my classroom is my student’s learning environment. I build from the first day that they are in my classroom that we are a community that will work together to achieve goals that will grow us as learners. I believe that students can learn just as much from each other as they can from me. It builds not only their knowledge of working with others to work through the material, but it also builds them as people to work as a team through problem-solving. It creates an environment of inclusion where students are willing to help each other. My leadership style also has a foundation of collaboration. Working with other educators and hearing other perspectives and ideas is what continues to make me a better educator. I get inspired by other educators and talk to them about projects and ideas. Collaboration in both my classroom and in leadership is an essential part of who I am as an educator. 

Q: Do you have a classroom motto or philosophy you abide by? Why?

A: For my classroom, my philosophy for my teaching is to keep growing as an educator and keep changing things in my lessons to benefit my students. Each class of students is different in their needs from other classes. I build my classroom and what we do around my students. This means that I may not teach the materials the same way that I taught them before, and that is my goal. I want to be continuously changing and learning more about what can benefit my students. I am constantly looking for new ideas, new resources, and new ways for students to present their understanding of materials. The world of education and technology is constantly changing, and that means that the needs for what students need to know to be ready for after high school is changing. So, I change my lessons and get new ideas and resources to make sure that the students are college and future ready. 

Q: What’s your favorite part about every day?

A: The best part about every day for me is the relationships that I build with my students, but also the collaboration with other teachers. Watching students grow, achieve goals, and become proficient in something that they were struggling with is a highlight of my day every day. Collaborating with other teachers to think of new ways to approach activities, lessons, projects, etc. helps to keep me growing and thinking of new resources as an educator. Working with other teachers and educators is a highlight of what I do from day to day. Constantly looking at data and thinking about ways that we can improve to be better for the students. Hearing new perspectives and ideas to use for the benefit of the students and their learning is what keeps me excited about education and teaching. Collaborating and taking new approaches to teach to meet the needs of my students is absolutely the best part of my day every day. 

Q: What’s your most memorable moment as an educator?

A: It is extremely hard to talk about just one moment that is most memorable as an educator, but I would have to say that the moments that have been most memorable to me have all been around my students taking responsibility for their own education. For the past 5 or so years, Dr. Monell has been working with the English 10 teachers to push our instruction to be more data-driven and centered. At the start of this process, Dr. Monell was our Assistant Principal and is now our Principal. As lead teacher of English 10, it has been a long and hard process to shift our instruction and teaching, but what has made it memorable has been the students’ responses to this new way of approaching their education. The students are talking about the standards that they are being taught, understand the standards, and look at their data from benchmarks to see how they are doing in comparison to the rest of the county. We are having conversations about what standards they need to improve on based on that data and how we are going to do that. They are aware of what they need to know by the end of the class, and it drives them to work that much harder. That is what is most memorable to me as an educator, seeing my students taking responsibility for their education and working towards goals that they have set for themselves. 

Ms. Powell is just one of High Point’s 2022 Extraordinary Educators. Tune in for the next few weeks to hear more stories and inspiring moments from our local teachers!

Thank you so much to Stephanie Powell for your dedication to High Point’s students. Congratulations on being selected as your school’s 2022 Extraordinary Educator!

To find out more about High Point Schools Partnership and our work, please visit our Facebook page and check out our page on Guilford Education Alliance’s website.

Article written by High Point Schools Partnership Staff