Teacher of the Year: Rebecca Stewart juggled several subjects during pandemic

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series on teachers of the year in Troup County.

Rebecca Stewart, a fifth-grade math teacher and Clearview Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year, admits to not being the most well-adjusted student when she was younger. She said it took her a bit of time during her college years at Georgia Southern University to find academic stability.

However, after teaching in elementary and middle school grades in both Troup and Fulton County for the past six years, she has learned how to find a balance when it comes to teaching and her day-to-day life. Especially when the pandemic briefly disrupted that balance.

Last year, Stewart along with several other teachers, elected to keep their students in one room rather than have them switch classes. This change meant to keep students from having too much contact with others. This meant teachers like Stewart taught all subjects — science, social studies and reading — on top of their specialized subjects.

“We made the call as a grade that, instead of exposing classes to several different environments … we all decided to forgo our comfortability of teaching our own subjects,” Stewart explained. “That way for quarantine purposes, it would simplify things.”

The whole process was a learning experience, she recalled, but one she ultimately enjoyed.

“I definitely had to rely on my team members, but luckily I had a great team,” she said.

“If I had a question about how to teach reading or writing a certain way, my team was there for me, and they could lean on me for math. We all helped each other through it.”

This semester Stewart and her fellow fifth grade teachers were able to return to their typical subjects, and she continued her role as an extracurricular educator.  Stewart teaches cheerleading after school and previously coached her school’s fastest kid races and science club. After graduating from Georgia Southern in 2016, she briefly taught in the Fulton County School System near her home town of Alpharetta before moving to Troup County with her fiancé, Dylan.

She started at Clearview Elementary School when it first opened and has taught grades third through fifth.

When Stewart was selected as Clearview’s Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year. She pinpoints her ability to relate to her students in a variety of entertainment and cultural aspects, especially in their afterschool activities, as one of her winning qualities. 

“I enjoy [building] that bond with students outside of the classroom,” she said.

“Some of them already have the motivation, but some of them [need you] to create that bond and that relationship with them. Some students don’t always connect through learning. Sometimes they need to connect through other outside interests. I know and enjoy some of the same things [they do] and I can try to reach a lot of students that way.”

Another way she connects with her students is  she levels with them as someone who once struggled in school.

“[At Georgia Southern] as I got into my education classes, I finally had a lot of concepts click that I know I struggled with as a kid,” she said.

“I’ve learned ways to help those kids that struggle, which has definitely been a transformative experience.”

Outside of her role as an educator, Stewart volunteers with the Junior Service League of LaGrange and travels with her fiancé. She has two cats, Cat and Rona.