2018 Teacher of the Year finalist: Stephanie Wyman

This is the final article in a series of profiles about each finalist for Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ 2018 Citywide Teacher of the Year. The citywide winner will be announced at the Teacher of the Year dinner hosted by the Virginia Beach Education Foundation May 4.

For students and colleagues who think Woodstock Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Stephanie Wyman is STEMtastic, they can thank Mrs. Moriarity.

“The basis for who I am as an educator formed from an influential teacher in high school,” explained Wyman in her 2018 Teacher of the Year (TOY) application. “Mrs. Moriarity made it clear that learning math was not just a requirement for graduation. She made it personal and relevant and connected it to our lives. She developed relationships with her students unlike any other teacher. She consistently went above and beyond by making sure every child in her room learned math and its used in our world. I wanted to teach the way she taught me, through fun and engaging lessons where everyone is given the opportunity to learn and grow more.”

Taking advantage of opportunities to learn and grow are what Wyman has done throughout her teaching career in order to enhance and improve teaching and learning for her students.

Working in the New Orleans Public School system, she spent one year traveling the country training with Big Picture Learning and “fell in love with personalized learning.” Nearly a decade later, Wyman joined a group of teacher leaders, as a Virginia Beach City Public Schools Design Fellow, to continue the discussions and work regarding personalized learning and student choice.

More recently, Wyman was accepted to attend the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, which focuses on mathematics and science education. She’s also attended the Virginia Air and Space Center’s RoboSTEM and STEMtastic teachers academies.

“Children are natural scientists with their curiosity and questions. It is up to us to continue encouraging that innate inquisitiveness and to instill the love of science,” Wyman wrote in her TOY application.

Her knowledge of content and instructional skills are only two aspects of her success as an educator. Like her inspiration, Mrs. Moriarity, Wyman is focused on her connections with students.

“Because my approach is to set such high expectations, there must be a high level of trust between my students and me. I spend a significant amount of time developing these relationships and what I’ve seen is that each year almost all of my students reach and exceed those expectations. They follow their individual paths, set goals and learn based upon their interests. This combination of trust, relationships and high expectations are the foundation of my students’ success.”

Woodstock Principal Amy Hedrick attests, “Stephanie Wyman makes children believe they can do anything they set their mind to do.”

It sounds like Mrs. Moriarity would approve.

Learn more about Wyman’s interests and favorite things through her responses to the following questions.

If you could not work as a teacher, which job would you make as your career and why?
Trauma nurse – it’s action-packed and you have the opportunity to save some lives – and/or ice cream masher at Cold Stone or Amy’s in Houston. Who wouldn’t want to eat ice cream all day?

What is the best teaching advice you’ve been given?
Design your lessons to be loud, messy and fun.  Most children love to do all three.

What activities are on your bucket list?

  • To travel across the US in an RV with my two boys and my hubby.
  • Go on a Disney Cruise.
  • Have lunch with Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres
  • Go on a skiing/snowboarding trip to Aspen
  • Go on an African Safari

Describe your perfect day off.
Wake up to a clean house. Hit the kickboxing gym. Grab some family and friends for brunch. Head to the beach for a few hours. Watch my boy play in a baseball game. Order take-out for dinner. Sit on the couch and watch TV surrounded by my pugs and my hubby.

What is your favorite quote?
“It’s all about the relationships.”

Describe a favorite school memory or memory of a teacher you have from when you were a student.
Winning a scholarship at my high school graduation for being the most spirited, and I wasn’t even a cheerleader!  Those cheerleaders were mad!

Describe when or how you knew you wanted to become a teacher.
When I sat through too many boring math classes and was handed too many work packets.  I thought, “Dear Lord, no one should have to live like this!”

What advice would you give to a new teacher?
I would ask them to ask two questions: Would you want to be a student in your own class? If students had a choice to come back to your class tomorrow, would they all show up?

Speed Round: List as many of your favorites that you care to share.
Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite Dessert: Banana’s Foster
Favorite restaurant: Katz’s Deli or Carmine’s in NYC, or Port of Call in New Orleans
Song: “Castaway” by Zac Brown Band
Favorite musician: Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum
Favorite vacation spot: Aruba – headed there in October!
Favorite sports team: Green Run Stallions and Larkspur Lions (Go, Wyman boys!)
Favorite candy: Almond Joy, mini Peppermint Patties, Peanut and Peanut Butter M&Ms

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