By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published February 6, 2020
ATHENS—Stephanie Howe knew from the moment she began learning the craft as a student teacher that she wanted to teach in a Catholic school.
These schools are very special and where I like to teach, said Howe, who attended public schools in her native Ohio.
Howe, a Spanish teacher and dean of students, was the honoree for Monsignor Donovan High School, Athens, at the Catholic education banquet Jan. 25.
Monsignor Donovan High School is an independent Catholic high school.
School leaders said Howe “is able to recognize a student who is struggling and will do what is necessary to show that student that he or she is supported and loved.”
Howe grew up in Ohio, where her mother taught in public schools and her father was a chemical environmental engineer. She worked in education textbook publishing for several years before graduate school to earn her teaching credentials.
During her student teaching, she taught in an Ohio Catholic high school. That’s where she figured Catholic education would be the only place she would want to teach, she said.
She and her husband, Chad, moved to Athens, where he is a University of Georgia professor of Spanish. They have two children, with the oldest to enroll at Monsignor Donovan High School in the fall. They worship at St. Joseph Church, Athens. She is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and a lector. Her husband and son serve as ushers.
After settling in Athens, Howe took a part-time instructor position of Spanish and French at the university. Athens has a number of public and private high schools with good positions, but her heart was set on teaching in a Catholic education environment, she said. Six years ago, she joined the school faculty as a Spanish teacher and then as administrator.
She is the dean of student services, also involved in student government, student activities, school dances and other roles. As an administrator, she impresses on students the school’s values: conscience, confidence, courage, competence and compassion.
Compassion is her favorite value, she said. Young people are excited, learning new things, and make mistakes, so that is where compassion comes into play, she said.
Colorful travel posters from Spain and Peru decorate her classroom walls. A row of computers are in the back where students prepare for national exams.
Using technology in the classroom, her students use a smartphone flashcard app to learn new Spanish vocabulary words. Students may forget their textbooks at school, but they will never be without their phones to learn new words, she said.
Success for Howe is when a student knows more than they knew before entering the class. While some students become proficient in the language, others learn empathy and understanding about others through the experience, she said. The enjoyment of teaching is watching students make connections to existing knowledge, she said.
There is no better way to serve children and serve God than teaching in a Catholic school, she said.