Stonewall Jackson Teacher One of 12 Top Teachers Selected by “Live with Kelly & Michael”

| April 18, 2013 | 0 Comments | Education

Stephanie Nash is a creative math educator who reaches out to her community to help students achieve.

Stonewall Jackson High School math teacher Stephanie Nash was nominated as one of 12 candidates for “Live with Kelly and Michael“‘s Top Teachers Week search last last Friday.

Nash’s friend had sent a letter to the morning show detailing how Nash goes above and beyond for her geometry and algebra students. The letter was one of thousands the show received, but stood out for the ways it explained how Nash sacrificed her own time to help her students, and Nash was selected as one of 12 top contenders.

“It talked about how I take kids from where they are and get them to understand from all levels; that I did Saturday academies for SOL; video tape my lessons so they can get it from home, if they need to stay home to help the family; and take a few hours on Sunday for parent conferences, since the majority of my parents do not work the usual 9-to-5 jobs,” Nash explained.

On Friday, when Nash arrived at school, her principal told her that she was selected by the show and would be competing to be their top teacher.

Wanting it to be a surprise for her students, Nash told the class that the superintendent would be broadcasting a message on the television. Once her students found out what the real announcement was, they cheered and hollered with excitement.

After the 12 nominees were announced, people had to vote for their five favorites on Live’s website. Although Nash did not end up being one of the five finalists, she is happy to have been one of the 12 selected to compete.

“It was great just to have recognition for Stonewall Jackson on national TV,” Nash said.

This is not her first nomination in a top teacher contest, last year she was one of 14 teacher finalists for Prince William County teacher of the year.

But, while recognition is nice, it is clear that everything Nash does is for her students, meeting their unique challenges.

Nash's classroom ceilings are decorated with geometry and string art that students in her class made as a school project.

She said that many of her parents have a busy schedule, and for some they also face language and cultural barriers impeded them from getting more involved in their children’s education. Despite these obstacles, Nash has found ways to include those parents and encourage them to take a more active role in their children’s studies.

She sends home a newsletter on class progress and curriculum, so those who do not have Internet access can remain informed. She schedules parent-teacher conferences on her own time, on Sundays, when parents are more available, and she organizes projects where she asks for parent volunteers.

“Parents are now getting their SOL envelopes with dates of the SOL academy, how to donate breakfast and how to help kids prepare,” said Nash.

Since some parents are intimidated by high school-level  mathematics, she includes answers with her practice questions.

“Parents just want to be involved so if you get them involved they love doing little things,” Nash said.

She also finds creative ways to prepare her students for the SOL. She asks students a question every day before they enter the room. While some teachers have warned her, “you can’t do that,” she said it works, because students will come up with the answers.

She will hold Saturday tutorial sessions where she will put in extra time prepping her students for their SOL math tests.

If the students still need a push to do their best on the SOLs, she encourages them with a promise they named “Hash Tag Team 80.” If the class scores 80 percent or above on their SOLs, she will let them duct tape her to the wall in the classroom.

“I know I will be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” said Nash, but she thinks it is worth it. Her class is more motivated and students are now policing themselves, by saying “Hash Tag 80,” when someone distracts the class.

All in all, Nash said she loves to try new things all the time.

“I just come up with stuff. A lot of times they fail, but it shows the kids, you just pick up and keep going,” Nash said. She does not even keep curriculum from year to year because she prefers to come up with new creative ways to approach her lessons.

Plus, she works with students to do the best that they can do.

“Math, a lot of parents expect their kids to get As. I don’t expect everyone to get As, I just expect them to succeed.”

Most of all she finds ways to incorporate lessons of friendship, responsibility and a sense of opportunity in the various creative art and cooperative activities she plans for her classes.

“I teach life; I just do it through mathematics,” Nash said.

 

© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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