Each year, the #SpanningtheNeed will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week, Education Edition’ during Teacher Appreciation Week and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted teachers who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured as apart of our Teacher Appreciation Week is Michelle Stoutamire from Warren City Schools. | Nominate someone now.
Name: Michelle Stoutamire
Position: 12th grade English teacher
School District: Warren City Schools
What made you want to go into the education field?
My math teacher in 7th grade asked me to tutor a friend in the office during class since I understood the material really well. When my friend understood concepts I tried to explain in different ways, I loved the feeling of helping her accomplish goals.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful in education?
Love unconditionally. Students have bad days just like teachers do; no one wants to be reminded of them. I don’t take insults personally; I realize that kids sometimes deal with issues I’ve never had to face, especially at their age. A little grace can go a long way.
What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way?
I get impatient to go home just like the kids, and sometimes I enter a wrong grade on the computer. I have an easy fix, though: students know that they should monitor their grades closely because I’m fallible (just like them). If they find an error, I will happily add bonus points to that particular grade as an apology. They diligently monitor their grades, and I can easily fix my mistakes while modeling an apologetic attitude.
What is the best advice you can give future educators or the public?
Try your best to go home at the end of your contractual day. That may be impossible to do the first year as you discover who you are as a teacher, but the kids will not benefit from an overworked, exhausted teacher who constantly puts home life on the back burner. This may mean you don’t grade every single assignment, and that’s ok! Practice doesn’t require a grade.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession?
I would have taken a larger role in the lives of my sons when they were little. I would pick them up from school and take them back to my classroom with me to do more work before dinner; I tried to do EVERYTHING perfectly, but I missed out on my children’s lives. In retrospect, my heart hurts because of that.
What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
“When You Believe” by Whitney Houston on the Prince of Egypt soundtrack is perfect for how I feel right now. I teach seniors, and I’m currently working with them to ensure that each student succeeds at passing their classes for graduation. Graduation night is the most exciting evening of the year!
What is your best accomplishment/experience in life?
Overcoming my fear of playing the piano in front of an audience has led to me being the pianist at my church, and I’m having a blast!
Who is your role model and Why?
Francine Rivers is a Christian author who intertwines Biblical life lessons into every fictional story she writes. She and her characters are never arrogant or hurtful in their Christian behavior, and I adore that!
If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Her strength and fearlessness in such a male-dominated profession inspire me to be equally fearless.
A favorite quote that you live by?
“Nothing will work unless you do.” Maya Angelou