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The Suburbanite
  • Teacher Feature: Rachel Stien – Jackson Middle School

  • The second teacher in our Feature a Teacher series is another dedicated professional whose impact has had profound effects on her students.

    This teacher wears multiple hats and offers her expertise, compassion and love of teaching both in the classroom and in a support role for other teachers.

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  • The second teacher in our Feature a Teacher series is another dedicated professional whose impact has had profound effects on her students.
    This teacher wears multiple hats and offers her expertise, compassion and love of teaching both in the classroom and in a support role for other teachers.
    Making a difference in someone’s life, especially a student that has a few more obstacles to learning than some others, is what makes teaching a lifelong mission for Jackson Middle School teacher, Rachel Stien.
    “I wanted a teaching job where I could really get to know the kids and really see the impact that learning has for them. You can see aha moments when you work with fewer kids and it is very rewarding from a teaching standpoint to watch a student who has struggled with a concept to suddenly and finally ‘get it’,” Stien said.
    Home: Rachel lives in Massillon. She is a graduate of Jackson High School.
    Stien’s family: Rachel’s mother and father, Tom and Barbara, both live in Jackson Township and help take care of Rachel’s dog Gracie.
    My dog is a Schnoodle, part Schnauzer and part Poodle,” Rachel said. “She is my dog but stays with my parents because I am working so much. I think my mom is trying to win her over to be her dog.”
    School name and location: Jackson Local Schools, Jackson Middle School on Mudbrook Avenue.
    Teaching position: Rachel has been teaching for 20 years. She is an intervention specialist and the head of the intervention department. She also teaches seventh grade language arts in special education and co-teaches language arts in a general education classrooms for middle school students, grades six through eight. Her special education students go into the general classroom for learning.
    Rachel thought she always wanted to teach the lower grades. At the time she applied with Jackson Local Schools, the only position open was in the middle school and she took the job. She continued to believe that she would eventually move to elementary until after her first year at the middle school. She realized that she absolutely loved teaching the middle grades.
    “I really like these grade levels. It is a strange age where the kids are not yet adults and not little kids. They are trying to find their place in the world. It’s fascinating to watch the process of coming out from the child label and going into the young adult age that takes place over nine months. They still have a good sense of humor at this age and they are still open to learning, sometimes they don’t admit they like learning but they do. I have students that still get excited to see a sticker on their paper. The first nine weeks is spent establishing a relationship and getting to know them and they are getting to know you, it’s so critical.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Credentials: Undergrad degree from Malone University in general education and special education teaching grades one through eight in a regular classroom or kindergarten to twelfth grades in special education.  Rachel also has a master’s degree from Ashland University in curriculum and instruction.
    Favorite time of the year: Summer--because of the heat
    A Favorite quote: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could”, by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
    Favorite food or restaurant: Italian foods
    Favorite Color: Maroon and not sure why
    Song: Claire de Lune by Debussy “I like this music because I can just let my mind go blank and not think about anything else except how pretty the song is.”
    Movie: The Shawshank Redemption “It’s a movie that ends with happiness prevailing.”
    Favorite Book: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery “I was very shy and quiet when I was younger and because of that, I really like the Anne character.”
    Favorite Animal: “Beagles are really my favorite animal. My dad had them when I was growing up.”
    Three things ‘to-do in this lifetime’:
    1. Go back to China. Rachel visited China two summers ago with 20 other teachers.
    2. Learn to dance.
    3. Convince Luis Lacourt (middle school guidance counselor) that she is superior.
    Take your breath away moment: “When I saw the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses in China. They are 8-foot statues, depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor of China), buried underground to protect him after he died.”
    Aha moment that changed her life: “Being accepted into a college. When I was in high school I never thought I would go to college because I didn’t think I had enough money or was smart enough. I took secretarial courses in high school. At age 21, I decided to change my life. I really was not happy being a secretary. Since I was always playing school with my stuffed animals when I was younger, I thought teaching would be my career choice and decided to go to college for a degree. I can still remember getting the phone call that I had been accepted. ”
    Special moment in teaching career: “In my fourth year of teaching, we had our first autistic student in the middle school. I had this student for the next three consecutive years and it was so rewarding watching him go from hiding under his desk and staying in his own fantasy world in the first year to making eye contact with people and saying hello and good-bye. I’ll never forget the first time he said thank you. The student was so disconnected from reality he couldn’t recognize how much people worked with him. It can take a couple of years to see a change in the kids and to see how much progress they make from day one in the middle school to the day they start preparing to go into the high school. It is always so amazing to see what these kids can do.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Typical work day: Most of the special students either have a learning disability, a health impairment such as ADHD or epilepsy or cognitive disabilities with a lower than average IQ.  There is also a growing population of autistic students. Most of the special education students will take the Ohio Achievement Test making the job of the intervention specialist to help general education teachers learn to change instruction so that it meets the needs of the students while still focusing on the grade level standards.
    All of which makes every day different for Rachel. As the department head of the special education department, she schedules students, organizes testing groups for special education teachers and students, puts out a lot of fires and coordinates many things behind the scenes to make sure the day runs smoothly for those in her department.
    When Rachel is not putting out fires, she goes into the general education teachers’ classrooms to co-teach language arts.

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