Stephanie Boyd said she is a good teacher because of her students.
“They’re what pushes me to be a better teacher,” Boyd said.
They must push her hard, because Boyd, an English teacher at Martinsville Middle School, on Tuesday night was named Martinsville City Public Schools’ 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.
She was just one of the teachers recognized at the school division’s Employee Recognition Banquet at Martinsville High School. A top teacher at each school was named.
In addition to Boyd, Jan Turner, prekindergarten-3-year-olds teacher, was named the top teacher at Clearview Early Childhood Center. Jill Holder, fourth-grade teacher, was tops at Albert Harris Elementary, along with Amanda Jackson, kindergarten teacher, at Patrick Henry Elementary and Marie Stone, a health occupations teacher, at Martinsville High.
“I’m very excited and overwhelmed, but I owe it all to the students,” Boyd said.
When asked to describe her philosophy of teaching, Boyd said she said the most important part was building relationships with students.
"If you make the students feel safe and comfortable in the classroom, and make it a home environment, especially with the kids we teach in Martinsville City, that anybody can learn," she said. "As long as you let them do the work and facilitate learning, that everybody can achieve success. So building relationships and letting the kids do the work and doing hands-on, and interacting with the kids instead of always being the one always doing the work.”
Martinsville Middle School Principal Cynthia Tarpley said Boyd is a high-performing teacher whose work is the utmost quality and who does a great job with whatever task she is assigned.
“She has become a ‘go-to’ lead teacher in our school,” Tarpley said. “We go to Ms. Boyd for her opinion about instructional concerns, to have her work with low performing or challenging students, and when we need specific information about a student since they often talk to her about their issues.”
Boyd has a strong work ethic and takes on more to make sure students are successful and to support her co-workers, Tarpley said.
“She works hard and gives her best every day with a strong commitment and love for her students," she said. "She has high expectations for her students. … Ms. Boyd has a calming personality that is a magnet for some of the most challenging students. She works very hard to support both students and staff.”
Said Jessica Clervoi, a teacher with Boyd at Martinsville Middle School: “Her students trust, respect and love her. … Often, students will take a detour from their destinations just to see her. Her students work hard because they love her. ... While working with students who have never passed an SOL [Standards of Learning], you’ll hear her say, I’ll get them there, and she often does.”
Boyd said she has been working for Martinsville City Public Schools for 11 years. She taught at Albert Harris Elementary School six years (fifth grade for five years and third grade for one year) and has been at MMS for six. She has taught sixth-grade science and sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade English there.
“I met Stephanie Boyd my first year at Martinsville Middle. Those were some dark days. Back then anything that could go wrong did," Clervoi said. "I was blessed to have Boyd just down the hall to give a supportive smile, a word of encouragement or to help discipline a class gone wrong, and it happened, a lot. Even with her own work load, she has never hesitated to lend a helping hand and sound advice….
“This year she is stretched between seventh- and eighth-grade English. Her work load has increased, yet she does not use that as an excuse to be mediocre. Anything she is tasked to do she puts her all into. Situations that would make others tense, she takes the challenges head-on.
“Her actions and drive inspire others to learn more, do more and become more. … She has influenced my life in more ways than I can count, and I know that she has done even more for our students.”
Tarpley said Boyd provides professional development and facilitates collaborative planning meetings for her peers. She also builds positive relationships with students, in such ways as attending students’ extracurricular activities and coaching basketball.
Teachers of the Year for the schools were chosen by their peers.
Then, in competition for Martinsville City Public Schools' overall award, each school winner submitted a portfolio with information about her educational history and professional development and essays on professional biography, philosophy of teaching, student engagement and educational issues and trends. The portfolios then were submitted to an educator with no connection with the school district and who did not know the names of the teachers.
Boyd will compete for one of the eight regional Teachers of the Year, and the regional winners will compete for Virginia’s Teacher of the Year.
Also at the banquet Tuesday, retirees, employees who have earned degrees, conference presenters, and state education committee members were recognized, and safety and building pride awards were presented.