Educator of the Week - Stephanie Hawes

Stephanie Hawes, 2nd Grade Teacher at West Gresham Elementary in Gresham, Oregon

Nominated by Michael Hawes (husband)

My wife Stephanie has been a teacher for 25 years. She has taught Kindergarten, 1st grade through 4th grade and is currently teaching Second Grade. This is her favorite grade, as she loves to teach young kids how to read and write. What she does within one year with these young minds is nothing short of amazing.  She is tireless in her commitment. She loves her kids so much and commits to ensure each and every child she has in her class reaches their full potential. She typically visits her class room throughout the summer to ensure her classroom is the perfect environment for learning. She often stays late in the day and does not hesitate to go in over breaks and holidays to put special projects together that are both engaging for the students and fun. She starts off every year worrying about her kids and how she can get them ready for the next grade. Many of her students are ESL and come from really tough situations. She provides this amazing environment where her kids feel loved, valued and supported. I have lost count of the number of kids over the years that cry at break because they will miss her and school. She is incredible!! She works miracles and loves her kids;  I honestly am amazed at her commitment and love for her important job. My wife Stephanie is a second grade teacher and I could not be more proud of her. She is extremely deserving of this amazing recognition you give our teachers. Thank you so much for recognizing teachers!

Congrats, Stephanie, from all of us at K103! Get to know Stephanie Hawes:

What inspired you to become an educator?

Well, I definitely have been lucky with a lot of great role models in my family to inspire me to become an educator. My Mom MaryAnn Rohrbough is a retired second grade teacher from Menlo Park Elementary School and my Dad Dale Rohrbough is a retired Business teacher from Sam Barlow High School. They are both exceptional teachers that instilled their passion of teaching in me. Their confidence and loving support throughout my life have meant the world to me since I respect them so much. I also have several aunts, uncles, and cousins that are dedicated educators. My husband Michael Hawes always inspires me to be the best I can be. I have always wanted to be the kind of teacher that I would want for my own children Blake and Sami Hawes.

I have also been very blessed to grow up in this community in Damascus and have had wonderful teachers along the way at Deep Creek Elementary, Damascus Middle School, and Sam Barlow High School. I really enjoy teaching in Gresham-Barlow School District where I grew up.

What do you like most about teaching?

I love watching the kids grow and develop. I enjoy seeing their confidence and self-esteem grows as they learn how to read, write, and do math. I really enjoy seeing how my class comes together as a classroom ohana (family) and how they support each other. The relationships that I have had the opportunity to have with students, parents, grandparents, teachers, and colleagues has been priceless. I really cherish the moments when I get to connect with some of my prior students. It is so rewarding to have them reach out to me as successful adults starting their own families. I feel blessed to work with such passionate dedicated teachers at West Gresham Elementary. We work really hard together as a team to instill a growth mindset in the students and I love working with my colleagues.

What has changed the most since you began your career in education?

I would definitely say that technology has changed throughout my career. When I started teaching we used books with cassette tapes, overhead projectors, and no one had cell phones or email. Now we have chrome books and iPad in the classroom that helps individualize student's learning. The students are very tech savvy and quickly learn how to use these tools.

What would you like parents to know about your job?

I would like parents to know that they are their child's most important teacher and I feel blessed to be in their child's life for the year that I have them in my class. I want parents to know that my job is so much easier when we work hand in hand so their child can be successful. Reading with them at night, talking and sharing experiences with them, and spending quality time with their children helps them to be ready to learn when they come to school. The more parents communicate with their teacher about their child's strengths and weaknesses, the easier it becomes for the teacher to build a relationship of trust with the child and family.  I want parents to know that learning is not a race and to praise the effort and the journey along the way. I want parents to know that even after the school day is over teachers still think and worry about their students, always looking for ways to engage them and get them excited about learning. I want parents to know that this job can be very demanding but extremely rewarding all at the same time, and the best part of the job is to see their child shine.

Share a favorite story about your years in education.

I have so many wonderful stories it is hard to pick but here are a few. One of my favorites is when I taught first grade at Hall Elementary which is a Title 1 school and my students had read an amazing amount of books, hundreds of hours and we entered a TrailBlazer Reading contest. We won the contest and the Blazers sent a huge bus for my class and many of their parents and we all got to go to a Blazer game. The students were so excited to see their school and our class name up on the Jumbo Tron. Many of my students had never gone to a Blazer game before and it was such a great experience.  When I was teaching in Hawaii on the Marine Corps base on Oahu. One of my students' parents surprised him when he got back from Iraq and he came straight to the classroom. There were lots of big hugs and tears. Another memory I cherish was when I was teaching about space one year, I brought in a refrigerator box and the students researched, painted, and turned it into a space shuttle. I still remember the NASA helmets and the big lift-off. We kept that up for a long time and used it as a fun reading nook afterwards.

Each week during the school year, K103 and Concordia University will honor a local educator.  Each week, our honored educator receives:

  • $103 Gift Card for Classroom School Supplies
  • The Crystal Apple Award
  • A Concordia University Continuing Education Scholarship

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