After 21 years of teaching at Reeltown High School, Stacy Monroe is stepping into the educator certification section of the teaching and leading unit at the Alabama Department of Education.
Monroe said in this new role, she is shifting from helping students to helping teachers. Monroe first saw the job posting through a newsletter the Alabama Department of Education sends out to teachers. She said she applied, not thinking she would get the job, but when she did, it was nothing short of a surprise.
“I’m a teacher. I don’t know how not to be a teacher,” she said. “However, in this move, I’m going to be able to help educators and helping educators is going to trickle down and help the students. It will be a different arena, but I’ll still be a teacher.”
Monroe has taught at Reeltown High School for all her teaching years, primarily in English language arts. She has worked with all the grades from seventh through 12th as well as taught an art history class, poet speaking class and an ACT prep course.
Before moving into her new position, she taught dual enrollment as well as English for 11th and 12th graders. Monroe said she enjoys teaching English in particular because it’s constantly evolving. She not only taught novels or short stories, but also podcasts and videos. Plus, she got to constantly read literature critically.
“I love words, the power that words have,” she said. “I’m also a grammar cop. So grading essays, it gives me the opportunity to use my red pen and correct grammar mistakes.”
Monroe believes teaching is about making a student better than they were, before they leave the classroom. To help do that, Monroe surveyed all of her students for a semester — getting to know their likes, interests and sense of who they are. From there, she would design the course for that semester.
“Don’t be their friend, be their mentor,” she said. “There’s a fine line there between the two. We are mentors. We got to help them get where they are going.”
Another important aspect of teaching is keeping students active. On the third day of her teaching career, a coworker told her, “Idle hands are the devil's workshop.”
Monroe reflected on that and found if students don’t have something to do, they will find something, and it may not always be what is best for the learning environment. That’s why she believes it’s important to keep students busy and keep learning engaging.
“Teaching offered me the opportunity to share my love of learning, to help people and to have a guaranteed different day every day of the week.”
The week before leaving Reeltown, Monroe packed up about four boxes worth of personal items a day and drove home — slowly cleaning out her classroom.
She said she’s going to miss her students, their conversations, seeing them finish a good book and even listening to them complain about having to do work for the whole class period. However, she will also miss her colleagues.
“They are the best group of people to work with and I wouldn’t have made it 21 years without them,” Monroe said. “Everything about this place I’m going to miss. It’s like leaving family.”
On her last day, she felt the tears boiling up behind her eyes. Monroe said it was hard to walk away, but everyone must grow and learn.
“Things change, the world changes and if you don’t change with it, you are no longer effective,” she said. “But that, to me, is what makes it exciting. I get to learn new things.”