The Blackboard Awards
trademark energy, Stacy Birdsell
tackles 7th grade reading
Some principals will cross a state to recruit a heralded teacher, but it's not often that a head of school crosses an ocean to do so.
Seth Andrew, head of the Democracy Prep Charter School, met Stacy Birdsell in South Korea in 2000 and has been recruiting her ever since.
"I have seen many, many teachers in my time, and Stacy
is truly a master," Andrew says.
After student-teaching as an undergraduate at Tufts University
traveled to South Korea to teach English.
began to develop her
now trademark boundless energy and gift for keeping a class enthralled.
"There's an aspect of entertainment in holding your students' attention," Birdsell
"I started to learn how to do that really well when I had to communicate to a large group of people who didn't really speak my language."
Teaching 7th grade reading to more than 100 students who read anywhere from 2nd grade- to college-level, Birdsell
is constantly finding new ways to engage all abilities.
expectations high from the moment her
students enter the classroom, with the goal of giving each one the tools they need to succeed.
"Stacy has this way of making everything come alive to the kids," said Katie Duffy, director of development at Democracy Prep.
"I have 7th graders who not only have read it but can understand it and talk about it with more care and thoughtfulness than I can because Stacy
has that passion to make it accessible."
chose the text not for the sake of teaching Plato, but rather to prepare the students for a novel they were scheduled to read next that incorporated similar themes.
All of her
lessons are geared toward helping her
students meet her
"So much is at stake for a lot of our students," Birdsell
"They really have set their goals at 11 years old that they're going to go to law school or business school.
They have their sights set so far beyond college graduation and that kind of thing that keeps you working hard."
In less than a year, Birdsell
has carved a niche for her
high-energy, upbeat teaching style in the halls of Democracy Prep