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Profile: Stephanie Caraway, Spanish Teacher

Profile: Stephanie Caraway, Spanish Teacher

The Springfield News-Sun published a profile of Ms. Stephanie Caraway, Spanish Teacher at Shawnee Middle and High School, on Sunday, April 28, 2024. Get to know Ms Caraway - her background, what inspired her to teach Spanish, the upcoming Costa Rica trip, and more!

Q. What is your name and title/position in the district? 
My name is Stephanie Caraway. I am one of the Spanish teachers at Shawnee High School. 

Q. Tell us about your background and education. Where do you live and where did you grow up? 
I grew up in Greene County and still live there! I completed my bachelor’s degree at Ohio State and my master’s degree at Wright State, so I haven’t lived too far away. 

Q. Tell us about your family (spouse/partner, children, pets).
I have a husband and five children between the ages of 2 and 16! They keep me very busy! 

Q. What one word best describes you?

Q. What are your favorite hobbies?
I like to read when I have time. Mostly, I spend my time watching my daughters play softball and volleyball! Being a teacher and mother takes up pretty much all of my life.  

Q. What’s your favorite movie or TV show?
My favorite movie is Mary Poppins. 

Q. What’s your hidden talent?
My hidden talent? I am not sure that I have one. Ha!

Q. Why did you choose to pursue a career in education, specifically Spanish education?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. There are a lot of teachers in my family. However, when I was in my early teens, I went on my first mission trip to Mexico. It changed my life! I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the joyful approach to what really matters in life. My academic strengths were always in language, and I loved learning how to communicate in Spanish and connect with people with whom I would never have been able to connect otherwise.  I lived in Mexico during my time at Ohio State and loved every minute of it. 

Q. How long have you worked for Clark-Shawnee Schools?
I have been with Clark-Shawnee for 19 years. I went straight from student teaching to my own classroom! 

Q. What’s your favorite thing about Clark-Shawnee?
My favorite thing about Clark-Shawnee is the staff that I have worked with now and in the past. They truly have cared about me. When my youngest daughter was going through cancer, I was overwhelmingly loved and supported by them and by the local community. I consider it a true blessing to have worked with people who have become so much more than colleagues to me!    

Q. What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love connecting students to something “new” in their life since most students start taking Spanish in high school. I love being there for those “light bulb” moments. I love helping them develop their critical thinking skills, interpersonal communication, and language awareness. I love witnessing moments when they feel successful and when they ask amazing questions. I love to see the students’ growth from year to year, and I love helping them approach and overcome challenges. I also love to hear how they’re using Spanish actively in the community!  

Q: Is there a specific story or interaction that you have had with a student or staff member at Clark-Shawnee that has inspired you? 
I hold several special moments near to my heart. These have been interactions with students, former students, and colleagues, both personally and professionally. 

Q. What’s your greatest achievement as an educator so far?
Teaching feels like a thankless job most of the time, so “achievements” aren’t always at the forefront of your mind. However, when former students tell you that “you’ve changed their life,” it doesn’t get much better than that!!!! 

Q. What is something you have learned about yourself or your profession over the last few years? 
I’ve learned a lot about myself through teaching. I’ve learned that I can have hard conversations, that small actions matter, and that I don’t have to be perfect to be effective! I’ve learned that there is ALWAYS more to learn, and that I can keep pushing myself and my students forward! 

Q. Tell us about the upcoming Costa Rica trip. 
Together, one of the science teachers and I are organizing a blended trip for our departments to explore Costa Rica for seven days this summer! I am looking forward to our students gaining first-hand knowledge of the biodiversity in Costa Rica as well as experiencing authentic interaction in the Spanish language and Costa Rican culture! We will visit several ecologically impressive sites, tour some historic and culturally unique places, and have some epic adventures like ziplining in the rainforest! 

Q. What do you hope to take away from the Costa Rica trip experience? And what do you hope students will take away from this experience?  
I love opening the door to the world for these students! I will be refreshed in the language with time in Central America as it has been several years since I have been able to travel outside of the country. I want our students to take away a few things, too. I hope they realize how blessed we are in the United States as they observe different situations. (Seeing a school with a dirt floor or students of all ages in one room can offer a very new perspective!) I hope they see the practical purposes in which they can use their direct learning from Shawnee. I also hope they get hooked on trying new things, talking to new people, and experiencing new adventures! 

Q. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Most likely in ten years I will still be teaching Spanish here at Shawnee. I could even be a grandmother by then, so life could look very different! I know by then I will have taught children of former students, and that will definitely make me feel like I am in a new phase in my career. 

Q: Anything else you want to share?
There are so many caring teachers all around our area. Students, teachers, and families need community support because we are helping shape the future for everyone. Take time to thank a teacher who has made an impact on you. A few small words can motivate teachers when they’re feeling overwhelmed or wondering if they’ve made a difference! Thank you for this honor!  Go, Braves!