Stephanie Crowell

Kindergarten, Quitman County Elementary School

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I attended Delta State University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and my master’s degree in elementary education. While growing up, my mother always told me to enter the medical or nursing field. However, after growing up with my mom (who was a teacher for more than 35 years), the passion for teaching came naturally, I suppose. I am going into my tenth year of teaching.

What do you like about teaching?

I love children and I love being a part of their growth and development academically, emotionally, mentally and socially. Being able to see them progress and the joy they get from it is priceless.

Who are your students and what challenges do they face?

I have a classroom of 22 5-year-olds. They read at varying levels, but more than half came in not knowing all of their letters and very few sounds, which are key skills they need in order to become readers. I have another group of students who know all of their letters and sounds and some sight words.

My students are progressing well in their lessons on their adapted levels and they feel successful in their own growth and development. They face the challenge of not having the vocabulary and conversational skills to express themselves and explain their thoughts fully.

What challenges do you face in your current teaching environment?

The challenge in my current teaching environment is having the necessary resources and support to best meet the needs of students with mental, emotional and/or behavioral difficulties.

What are your thoughts on the Common Core standards ?

The new Common Core standards are designed with the purpose of pushing students to think critically and explain their thinking and rationale. These are very important skills for students to learn early so that they are able to reason and defend their thinking in the future (and in their careers). By teaching our students to ask and explain why, they’re able to better retain and comprehend the purposes behind various skills.

What’s your relationship with BRI like? How has the Institute supported or helped you?

I have worked with the BRI program for six years under the direction of a BRI principal and through their reading program supports. These experiences have had an impact on me, as they’ve allowed me to receive instruction and develop skills that push me to become a better educator for my students. The program also provides tons of resources for my students that directly affect their academic development in reading.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the classroom?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in the classroom is the importance of flexibility and motivation. As an educator, I pride myself on being flexible to the needs of my students as individuals. This allows me to meet them where they are and push them to feel successful and accomplished. They then internalize these feelings, which gives me great joy. I’ve also learned the importance of patience in times of struggle, both for myself and my students. Students want to learn, they just have to be supported and encouraged to appreciate and know their value and worth.

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