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The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

Mrs. Jefferson awarded Excellence in Teaching recognition

Photo by Smoke Signals
Stephanie Jefferson helps a student in her freshman Pre AP Biology class.

Twenty years of work has not gone to waste for this educator.

GRC Science teacher Stephanie Jefferson has earned the 2024 Excellence in Teaching Award for her outstanding teaching style and impact of her work.

Mrs. Jefferson has worked very hard over the years to hold her students to high standards and has seen them achieve greatness. Many of her students have been influenced by her classes, sparking new interest and opening opportunities for their futures. 

“Mrs. Jefferson’s AP Biology class helped me to find a passion for Biology, which is what I plan to major in next year at college,” says senior Silas Coogle. “Her enthusiasm and organizational skills made her classes streamlined and informative, but also fun and engaging. She is great at challenging students, but is still willing to put in the extra effort to help anyone who needs it.”

Being a very productive teacher doesn’t stop her from caring for her students and forming friendships with everyone around her. 

“She fosters an incredible learning environment with her students,” says senior Kylie Hensley. “She also maintains great friendships with her students. Being in her class is the best of both worlds.”

Many teachers within the school understand the importance of her personality and teaching abilities. 

“I always respected that she had a natural leadership and presence in the building as as well as her hilarious and infectious personality,” says math teacher Kait Greenwell. “It kind of puts you at ease and makes you feel comfortable going to her. You can just stop by and say, ‘So, Steph Jeff, what’s going on?’ And she’ll say, ‘Okay well here’s what I know, or here’s what we’re going to do.’ And so I just love that she has that very open approach.”

Mrs. Jefferson is extremely friendly and open to having conversations with anyone who approaches her. She represents a great personality with her students and knows how to balance it well.

“She has a really great relationship with the students while also maintaining the professionalism and the rigor in her classroom,” says Biomedical Science teacher Miranda Cord. “But she still has that relationship. And I think that’s really easy for teachers to fall into, like ‘oh, we’re friends with the kids,’ where she has that perfect balance. We would not be the same without Steph Jeff. We would have paper, we would have copiers available, but we would be sadder without her. That’s for sure.”

The Science Department wouldn’t be what it is today without the commitment and reputation of Mrs. Jefferson. Nominated by another teacher, her award’s nomination description presents all the information needed to display her supreme affection for our school.

Mrs. Jefferson has taught 20 years at GRC.

“Mrs. Jefferson connects with her students and motivates them to want to learn. She offers innovative, hands-on learning experiences that really engage her students. They love her fascinating experiments and especially her ability to make scientific concepts relevant in their everyday lives. Year after year, she and I teach the same students, and year after year, she reigns supreme as their favorite.”

Engaging students in their work and presenting them with activities that will interest the students is a big step that Mrs. Jefferson is leading our school to improve. 

“She loves doing experiments,” says science teacher Kevin Schulte. “The fact of how engaged she gets on experiments really helps students to learn. So as many experiments that she has probably done over the last 20 something years, and we probably won’t even get a chance to, so that’s what I would love to learn from her.”

Many students closest to her recognize the natural care she has for every single student in her class. 

“She’s always busy but she never really loses her sense of personality or happiness,” says senior Beau Stacy. “Most people would be busy and they’d be stressed and just not a good person to be around, but whether she’s stressed or not, she doesn’t express that in her classes. She also memorizes so many kids’ names and personalities, but she makes you feel like you’re the only student.”

From personal experience as one of her students, Mrs. Jefferson always finds a way to teach her course in a way everyone understands. Anytime that I would be confused she walked me through things I didn’t understand in a way I could. She made learning easy, even when work got hard. 

Mrs. Jefferson is an outstanding teacher but above all, an outstanding person. GRC is so lucky to have her for her commitment to the school and to each and every student she comes in contact with.

“I just love the students and their curiosity and helping them understand stuff that I’m very passionate about,” says Mrs. Jefferson. “I’ve been with this community and this school and these kids since before I even had my own child, so this has always been my family. I met my husband here, and he and so many other people have helped shape me to be who I am today. It’s really rewarding to get this recognition.”

This year’s award of teacher excellence easily found its educator.  

Assistant Superintendent Kelly Fithen, left, and Principal Luke Toy present the Excellence in Teaching award to GRC’s Stephanie Jefferson.
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Joby Mitmesser
Joby Mitmesser, Managing Editor
Hey! My name is Joby Mitmesser and I am THE BETTER Managing Editor for the Smoke Signals media team. My favorite activity is eating pounds of food and not sharing that food with others! I love playing sports with my friends, and I am a part of the Cardinal soccer team where I play center back. My favorite artist would have to be Taylor Swift; her music is honestly just superior. Playing Rook is one of the best ways to pass time throughout a boring day. If you ever need a Rook partner, email me… I am your guy. Shoutout Liam, my partner in crime. #ALL IN!

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