It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and one seventh-grade classroom is abuzz with bright laughter and chatter. Students are eagerly scrawling thoughts across their papers and weaving creativity into each and every one of their sentences. They’re enraptured by the world of words around them because of one teacher: Ms. Amy Stewart.
Over the course of eighteen years, Ms. Stewart has carefully shaped nearly two thousand young minds. As a language arts teacher at Hull Middle School in Duluth, Georgia, Ms. Stewart encourages her students to venture beyond their comfort zone and delve into the expansive realm of literature.
“Ms. Stewart is a wonderful teacher,” seventh grader Angela Stephan says. “She creates all sorts of learning activities so we can grow even more.”
From hosting poetry slams to having “snowball fights” with crumpled paper balls, Ms. Amy Stewart uses engaging lessons to help her students better communicate with the world. She emboldens students to stand undaunted in the face of public speaking by allowing them to deliver relaxed speeches in front of the class. She goes the extra mile to teach them how to craft the perfect essay by staying after school to help them fashion the finishing touches to their paragraphs. She builds their love of literature by introducing them to timeless literary works like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and A Christmas Carol.
Mrs. Stewart’s lessons extend beyond public speaking and essay writing, however. Ms. Stewart shares valuable knowledge with her students they can carry from the classroom into their daily lives. “There are two main life lessons I hope to impart upon my students,” she explains. “First of all, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and it is what we learn from those mistakes that define who we are. Second of all, we should never stop learning; all of us should be lifelong learners.”
Former student Reanna Rafiq can attest to this. “I remember I once had a bad day, and I felt I couldn’t do anything right,” she explains. “Ms. Stewart pulled me aside and said, ‘Reanna, you can do anything you want in life because I’ve seen your potential and what you can do.’ Her words have encouraged me to keep learning and improving. She cares about her students not only as scholars but also as real people with real emotions.”
Because of her sheer dedication and passion that shines, and continues to shine, through her work, Ms. Stewart was named Hull Middle School’s Teacher of the Year for the 2016-2017 school year. Since then, Ms. Stewart has continued to help her students strive for success in all their endeavors and grow as lifelong learners.