Clinton High School math teacher Stephanie Carter was named the 2013-14 Jack and Kitty Morisey Teacher of the Year for the Clinton City Schools district Monday during the school system’s end of the year celebration and awards program.
After Jeff Swartz, director of Child Nutrition, recognized each school’s teacher of the year, Vevlyn Lowe, Sampson Middle School band teacher and last year’s district teacher of the year recipient, took the mic and began listing all the attributes and activities of this year’s winner.
As attendees listened in anticipation of the winner’s name, which was kept a secret until the announcement, a surprised Carter realized that Lowe was talking about her and fought back tears as she received her recognition and accepted flowers and balloons from the school system and her family.
Cater, a graduate of Fayetteville State University, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Mathematics Education in 2005 and has been teaching at Clinton High for eight years.
During her time at Clinton High, she has taught numerous math courses including Algebra I, Foundations of Algebra, Algebra II, Honors and Honors Advanced Algebra II, Technical Math II, Geometry, Honors Pre-Calculus, and AP and Honors Calculus.
In addition to teaching, Carter also actively serves Clinton High in a number of other ways. This year, she was the Region 2 High School math representative for the school district. As representative, Carter participated in workshops facilitated by the Department of Public Instruction’s mathematics consultants. Carter brought what she learned in these workshops back to Clinton High to and share with her fellow educators, a move that she, in her Teacher of the Year portfolio, said helped Clinton High’s math department transition more effectively into the new Common Core curriculum.
Carter has also served on the District Digital Learning Team as well as Clinton High’s Media Technology Advisory Committee and the school’s Planning and Management Team where she is the chairwoman for the Professional Development Committee.
She enjoys mentoring new teachers too. “I believe that in order to be successful a teacher needs to reach out of their classroom to give and receive help from other teachers,” noted Carter.
As a co-sponsor of Clinton High’s Student Government Ambassadors, Carter also had the opportunity to reach out to students outside of the classroom. As a co-sponsor, Carter explained that she helped “oversee the class and executive officers as well as guide our student members to be ambassadors to a group of freshmen that they have met with and assisted throughout the year.”
Given her active school involvement, one might be surprised to learn that Carter didn’t always want to be a teacher.In her portfolio, she shared that “when I was in high school, my mother tried to persuade me to consider applying for the Teaching Fellows Scholarship, but I adamantly refused to even consider the idea. I told my mother there was no way I was going to be a teacher.”
However, after discovering that she was not as interested in engineering or accounting as she thought she would be, Carter began to rethink her ideas about the teaching profession.
“I realized I wanted to become a teacher and not just any teacher. I wanted to be a teacher that made a difference, like some of the teachers that I had encountered,” shared Carter. “I could always tell the teachers that enjoyed their job, that were actually called to teach, not just earning a paycheck, and those were the teachers that I wanted to emulate.”
Carter’s philosophy on teaching shows that she has, indeed, become one of those great teachers.
“Teaching is a wonderful profession, one that allows us to help shape the lives of the future generations. We have the privilege and potential to influence out students’ lives and help then attain or even extend their goals…Teachers also have the ability to boost our students’ self-confidence. I think that one of my most daunting tasks is trying to make students, especially the average students realize that they can be good at math and even like it too,” shared Carter. “One of the most common statement I find myself repetitively saying to my students to help encourage them is ‘Yes you can do it’ when they are struggling.”
Carter’s students also likely find encouragement and inspiration from her own example. “I love the subject I teach,” she declared. “To me, some math problems can be like a puzzle that I have to play with and try different methods to find the right answer, and that is a process that I enjoy and is something that shows up in the classroom while I am teaching.”
As well as being an enthusiastic math teacher, Carter also enjoys using technology and is an asset to Clinton High as it strives to incorporate more and more technology into the classroom.
“Some of the most common uses include using the SMART Response devices (clickers) for giving students warm-up exercises and assessments…and using Airliner (an interactive slate) used in conjunction with the SMART Board to present my lessons during class,” explained Carter.
Additionally, Carter also publishes her lessons to her website and even films her classes so that she can upload the videos to the website for her students to revisit later if they need to.
“This allows students who are absent, in ISS or the Alternative School, or need extra help to see the lesson,” noted Carter. “Math is a hard subject to learn (or review) by just looking at a problem, but by giving my students access to these videos, they can see the problems being worked and hear my explanations.”
As a result of filming her classes for years, Carter now has a large video collection which she can use to flip her math classes. “With flipping, I set up and record the lesson at home and load the video on Edmodo and my website for the students to view for homework,” explained Cater, “which frees up class time for practice and application of the material.”
As she encourages and prepares her students in the classroom to be lifelong learners, Carter acknowledged that she is dedicated to matching her walk to her talk, striving to continually learn and improve. “Someone once gave a me a piece of advice that was aimed towards my singing, but can be applied elsewhere, that was to find someone who is more knowledgeable than I am and stay with that person, learning and gleaning all that is possible from them,” shared Carter. “When there is a really great teacher, other teachers can learn from that person, thereby growing in their profession. It is my goal to be the best teacher I can be, to become more effective and inspiring to my students and that can be done by learning from those around me who have achieved that level of greatness.”
Carter’s involvement in school is likewise mirrored in the community. She is a member of the Clinton Family Worship Center, sings in the church choir and in the Eternal Praise quartet, volunteers with the senior citizen outreach program Pearls of Wisdom where she helps serve meals, call bingo games, and participate in special events, helps with her church’s Vacation Bible School as well as the children’s ministry, and supports the Valley of Hope Women’s Drug Rehabilitation Center.
In addition to Carter, Emily Colt was recognized as the teacher of the year for L.C. Kerr, Brenda Blamon for Butler Avenue, Stormi Moore for Sunset Avenue, and Zulma Marin for Sampson Middle.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.