Meet Ms. Stephanie Mejia | 6th Grade Lead English Teacher | KIPP DC Valor Academy
Ms. Stephanie Mejia is a sixth-grade lead English teacher at KIPP DC Valor Academy and April’s Teacher Spotlight! Ms. Mejia joined KIPP DC in 2018 after teaching in Dallas, Texas with Teach For America. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s in psychology and earned a master’s in education from the University of Texas at Arlington.
The infant stages of her journey inside the classroom began after internships with both the Rochester City Court System and Strong Memorial Hospital. The systemic injustices she observed during both, particularly as it relates to black and brown children, was the motivation needed to pursue a path in education and make a difference in the lives of young students.
“I saw the mental health side of things, and I saw the juvenile justice system and firsthand how our black and brown children were not being treated fairly. I knew then that I wanted to do something where I felt like I was making a difference and being a positive influence. That’s when I became inspired to teach.”
Having been familiar with the wider KIPP network with nieces and nephews attending KIPP schools in New York and also wanting to be closer to her hometown, Ms. Mejia accepted a position with KIPP DC Valor Academy after finishing in Dallas.
“Teaching has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me ever. I love seeing students excited about reading, or that a-ha moment when they finally understand a concept. I’ve also taught a wide range of age groups from 2-6, but I consider this age group my sweet spot. They are young enough to still have some of that child-like wonder to them, but also mature enough to have an intelligent discourse about classroom topics or even things happening in the community.”
Affecting every community in our country right now is the COVID-19 public health emergency, which has shifted learning at KIPP DC from inside the classroom to a robust remote learning environment for students.
“The structure of our classroom and our routines were able to translate over pretty well. So just as in earlier in the year when students walked in, and they knew they had their independent reading at a certain time, it’s been the same consistency as we’ve moved virtually. And consistency has been the biggest part of staying connected through all of this. My students know I’m going to call, text, reach out to their families, whatever I need to do to let them know I’m there for them.”
Outside of her role in the classroom, Ms. Mejia was Valor Academy’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year and currently serves as grade-level chair. She also is a member of their Family Engagement Leadership Team, helping to engage parents in school actives and, most importantly, establish a warm and welcoming environment at the school by working collaboratively with families. But arguably, her most significant accomplishment is being the leader, role model, and difference-maker, she set out to be years ago in the lives of students at Valor Academy each and every day.