Meet the Teacher: Kourtney Stuckey, Dowagiac Middle School

Educators are perhaps the greatest population of unsung heroes in Berrien and Cass County. This school year, Leader Publications will publish a weekly spotlight featuring teachers throughout the district, giving the community a chance to get to know the hard-working individuals shaping their children’s lives. Throughout the next school year, their answers will be published in the newspaper that serves each school district.

Name: Kourtney Stuckey

School: Kincheloe Elementary, Patrick Hamilton Elementary and Dowagiac Middle School

Grades/subjects taught: First through eighth grade special education

Where did you attend college? Southwestern Michigan College, Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University

How many years have you been teaching? How many years have you been with your current school? This will be my ninth year of teaching. With Dowagiac Schools, [I have been teaching] seven months [as of September].

Why did you decide to become a teacher? I became a special education teacher because of personal experiences. I have a younger brother and younger sister with disabilities.

Outside of school, what do you enjoy doing for fun? I enjoy spending time with my family, going to the beach, reading, scrapbooking, etc.

What is one thing your students may not know about you? That I have traveled to South America when I was little.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Mickey Mouse because he is from Walt Disney, where you can always be a kid and have fun.

When you were a student in the grade you teach, what were your favorite hobbies? Going to the park, playing outside, riding my bike, going swimming at my best friend’s house, spending time with my grandma at the lake house, etc.

How would your co-workers describe your teaching style and personality? As a special educator, I currently work closely with a range of grade level teachers. So, I am always communicating and working with others to meet the individual needs of all students. My coworkers would say that my personality is quiet/shy, takes some time to open up, but once I do, I am a team player, hard-worker, etc.

Who is your biggest role model and why? I would say that my biggest role model is my grandma Reva, because she was a hard worker and pursued her dreams by starting her own Tradelines business.

How has education changed in the last 10 years? Education has changed quite a bit since I first started as an educator. The curriculum and content standards, the expectations for each grade, assessing students and even the students themselves [have changed]. We tend to expect students to be able to learn the “traditional” way, but that isn’t the case nowadays. We have many students in our classrooms that learn differently.

What is your best advice to parents to help their child continue growing academically? First, read. No matter what you’re reading — newspaper, book, menu, manual for a toy/game, just make time to read to your child. Second, be involved in their education, know what your child is doing in the classroom, have an open line of communication with the teacher and read those papers that come home in their folders/bookbags.

If my students learn one thing this year, I hope it is … That learning is important and will help them achieve their dreams.

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