A first love led Airport Road Intermediate School principal Dr. Marcia Stephens to where she is today.
That first love was teaching.
“I love giving hugs,” Stephens said. “I love seeing students improve. I just love what I do.”
Stephens, a native of Mobile, began her career teaching third grade at Holtville Elementary School and worked there six years. Stephens then worked as an assistant principal at Eclectic Middle School for seven years before becoming principal at Airport Road Intermediate School, where she has been for eight years.
Stephens said the school achieved one of goals for the recently completed academic year by improving its annual state report card grade from 76 to 88. Stephens said another goal was improving instructional strategies.
“(We wanted to) make sure we have the resources in place to meet the needs of our students and make sure we have in place, as far as any additional enrichment, we meet mediation activities for our students,” Stephens said. “So students who have already mastered their skills, we’re going to take them further and provide them with everything they need to be a successful student. For the students who are struggling, we’re going to make sure we have our remediation.”
Teachers and faculty start the year with the end in mind for student preparedness, according to Stephens.
“When we start off the year it’s almost like a blueprint like you build a house,” Stephens said. “Make sure the foundation’s set and then we work on the foundation; we have the framework.”
Getting more parents involved in the school can be a challenge, Stephens said.
“I want more parents to learn what we do on an everyday basis as far as instruction, as far as what we expect, as far as our state assessments, as far as expectations for behavior,” Stephens said.
One of her favorite moments of the school year was dancing with teachers in front of the students to encourage them before annual testing in April.
“We always like to perform in front of our students and that’s one of the things they look forward to at the end of the school year,” Stephens said. “We pump our students up throughout the course of the year because we want them to go into a testing session and we want them to feel comfortable.”
Stephens said teachers relay to students they can do well on their exams with a lot of practice just as the teachers learned with dancing.