I had the great pleasure of working with Lee during the 2016 Educator Academy in the Amazon. She is indeed a life-changer, both professionally and personally. As a participant in the program she was thoughtful and curious and embraced every activity to the fullest. She was also an incredible team member and leader of her cohort from Omaha Public Schools. Throughout the program she was constantly making connections back to her classroom and it was obvious that she could hardly wait to share her experience with her students and her colleagues. Upon return, she followed through with this and has applied many of modeled instructional practices into her in-class and outdoor classroom curriculum. She is an inspiration to all who have the privilege of working with her! She is most definitely deserving of this honor!
I recently asked the students of Ms. Stover's Environmental Science classes to describe their teacher. "Caring" and "compassionate" were popular answers, along with "passionate about educating students". Lee Ann's students experience learning sequences that are novel and authentic. While Lee Ann is always looking for new ideas to impact education, she doesn't get caught up in the cycle of constantly "finding the next best thing". The projects she brings to her students are well thought out, and are refined semester to semester, and year to year. She reflects upon how her learners succeed and struggle, and seeks the guidance of her peers to help to improve the process. On top of all of this, Lee Ann is a prolific grant writer, securing funds that help to accelerate the entire learning community that surrounds her. Her value as an educator is immeasurable.
While working with Lee Ann, I have learned about place-based and project-based learning and different methods to effectively implement these strategies. I have seen Lee Ann create a model of collaboration with professionals from higher education, as well as STEM professionals. Lastly, and most importantly, I have experienced the caring nature of Lee Ann. She is quick to build positive relationships with the people around her. In my opinion, Lee Ann Stover's impact as a life changer is amplified by the care and concern she extends to others.
LeeAnn Stover served as my cooperating teacher from 2013-2014 at Burke High School and has been a mentor since. I owe many of my teaching strengths and skills to her guidance. She was always patient, caring, and offered admirable advice to mold me into the best teacher I could possibly be. Her outlook on teaching is innovative, and she always strives be become better and better each year. She immerses herself into programs that refine her skills so that she can better teach students literacy in science, research, and environmental issues. Due to her efforts, her students designed a prairie with native plants as well as an edible garden on Burke's property. She worked incredibly hard to write grants to make the students' designs a reality, and allowed herself to learn alongside her students in the implementation of the gardens. "Impossible" is not in LeeAnn's vocabulary. If she dreams it, she makes it happen. Her tenacity is admirable and contagious. Not only does she inspire her students to become environmental stewards for their community, but she also inspires other colleagues to take the initiative to connect their students to the local community to solve problems using classroom content to support their projects. I feel incredibly grateful to have LeeAnn as a friend and mentor and feel she has been the "lifechanger" in my life.
I have had the pleasure of working with Lee Ann over the past two years through a summer teacher-researcher partnership. From the first day working together, Lee Ann has demonstrated an intense desire to not only learn how to think like a scientist and conduct research, but also how that experience could be brought to her students. She learned how to design experiments and collect soil and water quality data and has since used that knowledge to lead her students in designing research plots at Burke High School. She has also taken the initiative to engage her Environmental Science students with meaningful science experiences, including teaming up with my undergraduate soil science students to mentor her students in designing, conducting, and presenting research at the university. The partnership greatly benefited both the high school students and my undergraduate students, and the quality of work produced by her students was impressive, clearly reflecting her ability to both educate and inspire. I am consistently impressed with Lee Ann's drive to maximize opportunities for her students and think of creative ways to immerse them in real science. Interacting with her has changed my approach to education and inspired me to think outside the box when it comes to improving student learning and engagement with science. Lee Ann is one of the most outstanding people I know and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn and work with both her and her students.
I had the privilege of working with Lee Ann as an instructional coach, and her willingness to try new things and desire to teach the whole student was something I instantly admired about her. She is very reflective on her practice and remains flexible in her instruction, so she can accommodate the needs of diverse learners in her classroom. Her absolute dedication to providing her students with engaging, meaningful content connected to service learning inspires others around her to do the same. She loves science, and she wants her students to love it too! She wants them to get out of the classroom and discover science all around them in real-world applications of the concepts they are learning. Her commitment to environmental science issues and possible solutions has made a lasting impact of her students, her school and her community. Lee Ann is always willing to support her colleagues and go the extra mile when asked. She is an amazing teacher leader. I consider myself very lucky to have worked with her and even luckier to still call her a friend.