All about her students

Students and faculty vote Ms. Becky Stevenson, Language Arts teacher, Teacher of the Year for the 2013-2014 school year and also a R.O.S.E. (Rockwood Outstanding Service in Education) Award recipient

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Ms. Stevenson gets down on Lanaira Brown’s (12) level to help her with her assignment.

Tiffany Skaggs, Feature editor

From the start of each of her classes to the bell, Ms. Becky Stevenson is circulating the classroom and interacting with students while she teaches, wearing a smile every class period.

“Ms. [Becky] Stevenson’s class is a really fun class,” Mikaela Lee (12) said. “She makes it really down to earth and she connects with her students. She really teaches us what we need to know, but she also makes it an easy environment for us to open up.”

To receive both Teacher of the Year and a R.O.S.E. Award in the same year is extremely rare since there are 118 teachers at EHS and only 15 recipients of the R.O.S.E. Award each year among district employees, parents and volunteers. There were 171 nominees last year for the R.O.S.E. award.

Ms. Symphony Stevenson, language arts teacher, described Ms. Becky Stevenson as being highly qualified to receive both awards. Ms. Symphony Stevenson shared a classroom with her two years ago as a new teacher.

“She works tirelessly to make sure that she is constantly revamping herself and the way that she teaches to best suit her students’ needs not only academically, but also personally,” Ms. Symphony Stevenson said. “Those are the types of teachers that receive those awards; the ones that not only teach their content but teach their students.”

Ms. Becky Stevenson has served all 17 years of her teaching career at EHS. She currently is the Language Arts Department chair and teaches two Honors 9 Language arts classes and two Senior Composition classes.

“She’s one of my more favorite teachers because of the way she does connect with the students,” Lee said. “She makes it a comfortable environment.”

She is witty and thinks quickly on her feet. A student killed a gnat with a big slam of a notebook. Ms. Becky Stevenson controlled the mess of laughter from her students by commenting, “Well that’s one way to make kill it: quick and painlessly.”

“She is super fun. She’s always cracking jokes or trying to laugh,” Ms. Kirsten Brauch, Language Arts teacher, said. “She’s really laid back and speaks her mind, which I appreciate about her.”

In her Senior Composition class, a favorite lesson of hers to teach is the six-word memoirs. Six word memoirs is a summary of someones life story or memorable moment in six words rather than multi-page piece.

She shared her favorite: “No more mirrors. Too many Marshmallows.” She laughed when none of her students did; she just rolled with it and continued on.

During her classes, she aims to make them as interactive as possible, straying from lecturing in order to make a more personable connection with her students.

Whether it’s Honors 9 or Senior Composition the classes always begin with the Question of the Day. The Question of the Day is usually a random question although some days it goes along with the topic of discussion for class. The questions of the day can range from simple questions like “Skittles or M&M’s?” to more thought provoking ones like “What was your favorite birthday memory?”

“The whole purpose is to get to know people, have everybody participate and get that sense of community and safety in the classroom. That is my top priority in relationship building, students should know they are safe and not judged” Ms. Becky Stevenson said. “It gives me a pulse on how students are feeling; if students had a bad weekend, if students are full of energy or simply what’s going on.”

Relationship building within the classroom is really important to Ms. Becky Stevenson; this makes it easier for students to feel more open in her class and in their writing.  She also tries to make each day better than the day before for her students and in her teaching.

“She is tireless in her effort to really be a better person, and to write a better story of her life both in school and out of school,” Mrs. Jennifer Strauser, associate principal, said. “She has the same dedication and loyalty to her students as she does her friends and family. She truly, deeply loves her job and she truly, deeply loves her students.”

Often times, her endeavors to make a personable connection with students a reality, reveal her dedication to being more than just a teacher to her students.

Along with the multitude of responsibilities that come with being department chair, the main responsibility is to be an instructional leader and to support the teachers within the department, as well as, to communicate the messages from the district and administration in order to help teachers in any way they may need.

“She definitely is an encouraging and positive influence on other staff members. She cares and she listens to the different points of views that they have,” Mrs. Deborah Asher, head principal, said. “At the same time she’s a role model. She’s an experienced teacher and has credibility with staff, so I think when she talks people listen because they respect her.”

It was not a surprise after all this emphasis on students that Ms. Becky Stevenson ended last school year with two prestigious honors.

The processes of both award starts out with open nominations from faculty and students. The Teacher of the Year nominations are then reviewed by a teacher committee, and then the top five teachers give a written 200 word philosophy/biography for other staff members to vote on.

The R.O.S.E. Award nominations are reviewed by a prestigious committee, usually comprised of former recipients, then a maximum of 15 across the district are chosen. The interesting concept of the R.O.S.E. Award is that individuals can only receive it once.

Danny Trask (10) appreciated her ability to remain student centered while managing one of the largest departments in the school.

“There’s a lot of reasons why Ms. Becky Stevenson received both high honors. She really does connect with students and she’s really dedicated,” Trask said. “She’s also the department chair, so that’s a really big responsibility. The fact that she’s able to do that and focus on students at the same time, doing both very well, is rather amazing.”

To be awarded both awards was an honor to Ms. Becky Stevenson because she feels there are many wonderful teachers in our school and in our district.

“It’s very humbling and in a small way it affirms loving what you do, doing what you love. I wouldn’t even call it my job; it’s my life’s work.” Ms. Becky Stevenson said. “We work in a school and district with so many awesome people that it’s an honor to be singled out. It’s something I absolutely don’t take for granted.”

Ms. Becky Stevenson was awarded both of the awards at the Renaissance Assembly last year, but the biggest surprise besides not knowing beforehand was the fact that her family was there while also realizing that she too had won the R.O.S.E. Award in the same year that her sister, Mrs. Amy Orr, Wild Horse Elementary school teacher, did.

“There are no words to describe that day; although, I don’t need accolades to be the driving force of why I love what I do.”

Recollecting the events of last years assembly, Ms. Stevenson explains what it meant to her to be awarded both that day.

“To me, the most meaningful part was that my family was there,” Ms. Becky Stevenson said. “No matter how old you get you want to make your parents proud and my mom and dad were always proud that I was a teacher. To share that experience with my sister was like the universe was conspiring in my favor.”