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Teachers are Heroes: Passionate planner Stephanie German has a 'critical role' at HES

Published Friday, June 1, 2018

Mrs. Stephanie German

Mrs. Stephanie German (BCSD photo)

As students walk out of classrooms across Berkeley County School District next week to begin weeks of fun in the sun, camps and family vacations, Hanahan Elementary School teacher Stephanie German will be counting her blessings.  

The end of the school year is the second-grade teacher’s favorite time of year, but it’s not because of the break from daily lessons, grading papers and managing classroom behavior.  

By the end of the school year, Mrs. German is able to see the impact she’s had on her students. They’ve become a part of her life, and she’s been a part of their growth. End of year awards ceremonies inspire her to continue growing as an educator and leader. Preparing lessons and realizing students have absorbed what you’ve taught is what Mrs. German’s most proud of. 

“They have developed, studied, and changed so greatly that I don’t want them to leave my class. It is a blessing to see all of my students grow and learn significantly in one year,” she said. 

She teaches with passion, and she credits her love for learning to the teachers she had as a child. She always desired to be an inspiration to others, so dedicating her life to helping children learn was natural and fitting. 

“Those teachers influenced and pushed me to become the teacher I am today. I can recall the impact those teachers made in my life at such a young age,” she said. 

As the 2018-19 Teacher of the Year at Hanahan Elementary, Mrs. German obviously has several skills in her super teacher toolbox. But if you were to ask her what’s her strongest attribute, she would tell you it’s her organizational skills. Her lessons are well-ordered. Students describe her classroom as tidy, and she ensures group discussions among children in her class are a productive layer of the learning process. It’s a skill set she also finds herself utilizing outside of her career as the “planner” among groups of friends, family members and within other social settings. 

“I apply this in my life outside of the workforce because I support others around me, consolidate things or events,” she said.  

Her ability to keep things organized contributes to her style as an educator. She encourages students to express their thinking. 

“The students are not only learning, but the other students are absorbing their peer’s ideas when they confer their thinking. We use number talks, math talk moves, turn and talk, partner work, small group projects, project based learning, technology to discuss thinking, and cooperative learning. The major aspect of learning is communicating. I infuse cooperative learning throughout my lessons because when students work together to complete a task they will learn from each other. My classroom environment promotes interaction among students.” 

Mrs. German's passion and classroom philosopy are things HES Principal Thomas Sparkman spoke highly of in his letter recommending her as a BCSD Teacher of the Year. Mr. Sparkman wrote that Mrs. German teachers her students empathy and creates dynamic relationships that contribute to the learning process.

"In the seven years she has been with us at Hanahan, her passion for her students and her love of teaching has allowed her to play a critical role in the success of our school," Principal Sparkman said.

As Mrs. German feels pride in her students and in her ability to make classroom lessons memorable experiences, she says she also holds her head high as a Berkeley County educator. She said she’s appreciative of the work that happens behind the scenes as it relates to best practices and adapting teaching practices to changes in society, new research and new technology. 

“I grew up in the Berkeley County School District and it was my dream to become a teacher in this very school district due to the fact that they want the greatest for their students,” she said. “…The district is always transforming and growing with the environment of the community around us.” 

Mrs. German is a graduate of College of Charleston and has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education.

Brian Troutman