Graham Expeditionary Middle School Teacher Named Teacher of the Year in Ohio
Stephanie Waldeck, an 8th grade teacher at Graham Expeditionary Middle School in Columbus, OH, has been named Teacher of the Year Award by the Ohio Alliance of Public Charter Schools (OAPCS).
Waldeck noted that the award represents all of the meaningful work by the GEMS staff since the school opened with the EL Education model six years ago. “The staff at GEMS is extremely caring and intentional with all of our work. We are constantly reflecting on our progress, looking at data, sharing ideas/protocols, and working to improve our practices to help our students be successful. Our work in building strong Crews and surrounding character/habits has certainly had an impact on the overall culture over the years. This award shows that everything we do every day is making a difference and having an impact on our students,” she said.
In accepting the award at OAPCS conference earlier this month, Waldeck said that she learned the “true meaning” of being a great teacher as part of the GEMS team. “I learned that being a great teacher means engaging every single student and not letting students hide out, it means building students confidence and teaching them that it’s OK to make mistakes because mistakes are what help us learn and grow, it means helping students reflect on their progress and identifying strengths and setting goals, and it means differentiating and scaffolding so that all students in my room can be successful.
She added “great teaching means talking about character with our students and how to be responsible and thoughtful, how to persevere and grapple with challenges whether it be mathematical or other challenges they encounter, it means talking to them about their behaviors/actions and helping them reflect so they understand how their actions affect our community. Lastly, and most importantly, I learned that great teaching means keeping a growth mindset in my classroom every single day and reminding myself that my students have not learned it yet.”
James Kutnow, Dean and Director of GEMS nominated Waldeck for the award. In his nomination letter, he said:
“Stephanie has excelled as a teacher in so many ways, making a huge difference in the lives of her students both academically and personally,” Kutnow said. “She regularly inserts energy and encouragement into her Crew and has been able to get the best work out of them that has been an extremely positive impact on the school’s culture.”