Staff Focus: Stephanie Geddie, Title I Point of Contact, Laurel Woods Elementary School
Posted: February 21st, 2018
Laurel Woods Elementary School Title I Point of Contact Stephanie Geddie has journeyed from homelessness to Teacher of the Year. She channels the support of the strong community she had growing up into her current work engaging families and connecting with students, especially those in similar situations.
Originally from Muskegon Heights, Michigan, Geddie faced many challenges growing up. She grew up in a single parent household, has been homeless, been on public assistance, and attended underachieving schools. She discovered pretty early, however, that education was the key to changing one’s situation.
“Around fifth or sixth grade I had this amazing teacher named Mr. Starr. He was the first male teacher I had and the first African-American teacher I had. He made learning such a priority. He went above and beyond. He’d show up at our basketball games or music concerts or even family reunions. I saw how engaged he was and knew I wanted to do that,” she explains.
Geddie was encouraged further as she got older by the strength of her community. “In my small town, there was not a lot of opportunities going on but very good people. My teachers and community organizations like the Upward Bound Program and Urban League of Greater Muskegon, who gave college tours, took us out of our situation and showed us something different. I felt that even though I might not have the financial means, in those classrooms, I was just as equal as anybody else.” Thanks to these experiences and the value her parents placed on education, Geddie learned that education can break down barriers.
It’s these same experiences that drive Geddie in her current position. “I feel like I owe so many, so I want to give everything I received. All that was poured into me, I want to pour into others. I want to build community and make us all feel like we’re involved and have a voice,” she says.
After graduating from Alabama State University with a degree in early childhood education, Geddie moved to Maryland after her husband was stationed in the area. She began her career at Talbott Springs Elementary School where she taught second grade for 12 years. She then took time off to earn her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. Returning to teach in 2011 at Laurel Woods, Geddie was a Kindergarten teacher until 2017, when she transitioned to the Title I Point of Contact for the school. In 2015, she was named the Howard County Public School System Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the Maryland State Department of Education 2015–2016 Teacher of the Year.
“It was really a great transition. Because the bulk of Title I is about working with families and the community, this seemed like just the best opportunity,” says Geddie. “I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I get to facilitate some great parent activities like meetings between families and staff, which really break down barriers and gives parents and students a voice.”
Geddie gets to continue her work in the classroom by also working as a reading intervention specialist and teaches math to the accelerated math group. “On the student side, I get to develop leadership and create a safe environment that encourages risk-taking. These kids are amazing and they’re going to do great things. And to know I had a small part in that is a pretty big deal.”
“She empowers our parents to be effective advocates for their children, participants and leaders in school decision making, and ensures active engagement of our community in all facets of Laurel Woods. Her passion is in establishing a strong home/school connection,” says Laurel Woods Elementary School Principal Susan P. Brown.
“I want to empower the parents as much as I want to empower the students. I try to give parents the tools so they can be effective lifetime teachers. That opens the door for a partnership between the school and our families,” says Geddie.
“Stephanie brings joy, excitement, competence and tremendous commitment to her job each day. She lifts up our students, supports her colleagues, and equips our parents, creating a school environment of endless possibilities” says Brown.