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|The Teacher Feature highlights the positive impact or innovative work of a South Dakota teacher each month. If you have a suggestion for a Teacher Feature, contact Laura Haatvedt at (605) 773-2593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.|
Stephens lends insight to advisory council
Joann Curoe Stephens has been teaching her second generation of Belle Fourche students for a few years now, but says she’s still having fun and enjoys being in the classroom. Currently, she teaches 7th graders English language arts.
“I love the changes and hope that comes with teaching middle school,” Stephens said. “Every day comes with new learning and new challenges.”
Stephens claims that her family always knew she would be a teacher, because playing school was her game of choice with siblings and cousins. She always volunteered to be the teacher. “I like the challenge of making a lesson or topic ‘click’ for students.” Today, she still finds recompense in watching her students gain the confidence and trust needed to take risks that result in learning.
Last year in an attempt to add more informational text, Stephens had her students use VoiceThread.com with Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. “Imagine an interactive PowerPoint presentation with added voice, web links, graphics and text where students wrote the side bars to correlate facts with the slide summaries of the fiction,” Stephens said.
A few years back, Stephens obtained her National Board Certification and described it as the best professional development she had ever experienced. Over the summer, the veteran educator lent her insight to the Local Teacher Reward Plan Advisory Council.
“Our state struggles with finding ways to finance education. There are no easy answers but our students learn from wonderful teachers and I wanted to have a voice in creating possible incentive plans that can recognize our teachers across all subjects and any amount of experience,” Stephens said. “It is a fantastic group of leaders representing school board members, administrators, and teachers. No matter the size of the school or the location, we all know we need to do more to keep quality teachers in South Dakota.”
But even after a busy summer, she was excited to get back in the classroom. “Everyone gets a new beginning to make this the best year ever – even me,” Stephens said.