Metro Parent Top Teacher Awards 2013
It's our annual tribute to five outstanding educators in metro Detroit. See how they bring Spanish, math, the library, compassion and kindergarten to life.
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Stephanie Howay, Freshman Spanish Teacher, De La Salle Collegiate High School, Warren
Not many of our nominations quote Einstein, Alexander the Great and François-Marie Arouet (better know as Voltaire) to describe a teacher's ability to influence her students. But that's just what sophomore student Grant Severyn did to relay the impact his freshman Spanish teacher, Stephanie Howay, had on his life.
Last year, as a freshman at De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren, Grant says, "I suffered through those first days nearly silent."
Worried about keeping up with rigorous coursework, he found Howay's class a welcome relief. Not because the class was easy, but that his teacher – in Grant's words – "became my advocate, supporter and ally. She inspired me to put forth my best effort, and I began to excel not only in her class but in all my classes.
"I think her best quality is her ability to connect with her students," Grant continues. "You can talk to her and bounce questions off her any time. She doesn't seem above anyone."
When asked how she's made such an impression on her students, Howay was thoughtful. "I guess why I think I have endeared myself to Grant, and to his peers, is that I'm very honest with them." She knows that her students may not see Spanish as an important class – and she tells them so. But she also lets students know that she's there to help them learn, whether it's strictly Spanish, or organization skills, or how to use their time wisely.
"My goal in life is to help them learn." As much as possible, Howay, who also teaches literacy, draws students into discussions and classroom activities, so they can have a chance to talk about what they're learning.
Howay looks for ways outside of the classroom for her students to use their skills, too. She's involved with the Global Trade Mission project, an interscholastic program where select students meet from around Macomb County for three days. During the program, the students go through a global-trade simulation, complete with real-world experts who are on hand to lend their expertise.
"What I like about the program is that the students have a chance to learn the ins and outs of global business and how we fit into the greater world community," Howay says. "It really helps broaden their horizons."