Jamaya Stephenson receives an award from HMH

Congratulations to Wacona Elementary staff member Mr. Jamaya Stephenson, who is one of twenty-one educators nationwide to be recognized by HMH with a Read 180 Educator Award.

The award honors remarkable teachers who demonstrate that it's never too late to open new doors to academic success. These educators exemplify unwavering dedication, with a focus on helping striving students overcome both personal and academic obstacles.

Colleague Jenny Dickson nominated Mr. Stephenson for the award, stating:

"Mr. Stephenson is the most adaptable, fun-loving, hard-working paraprofessional who goes above and beyond his role as an educator in serving his students in Read 180. Due to the close proximity of our classrooms, I am fortunate to hear and witness his enthusiastic and encouraging approach of meeting his students' needs with the Read 180 curriculum. While delivering the student-centered content in whole and small group activities, Mr. Stephenson builds close bonds by sharing real-life experiences with his students. When students are ready to exit Read 180, they are not ready to leave the risk-free environment Mr. Stephenson has created.

"His classroom is packed in the mornings before the actual start time of school with students who are eager to work on Read 180 to become successful readers in interventions and in the classroom. This is an amazing feat as this is Mr. Stephenson’s first year working with students who are enrolled in Read 180. His high expectations for his students outweigh the time constraints and the deficits students have faced since the pandemic. Mr. Stephenson is a visionary who has encouraged his students to unite around an academic plan that will prepare them for state testing in the spring. This includes conferencing with his students on their strengths and weaknesses. He is a team-builder who understands the importance of empowering students with just the right amount of empathy, trust, and even humor.

"But the most important thing about Mr. Stephenson is his ability to remain calm in any crisis. He is equipped with numerous personal strategies, so he is ready and able to steady himself in any stormy waters that come from the demands of teaching. It is hard not to be impressed with a coworker and friend who has the ability to lead others in every role he has held or is currently holding in our school."

Kudos to you, Mr. Stephenson, and thank you for making a difference. We celebrate you!

Pictured: Jamaya Stephenson and Principal Jeri Ray