AJC Celebrating Teachers honoree: Stephanie Spencer

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is proud to announce its annual community recognition program – the AJC Celebrating Teachers Awards. We believe the very best of the best are worth honoring and giving them the recognition they deserve. This will be a moment of significant pride for the honoree, their family and school.

Stephanie Spencer is a creative, engaging educator who works hard to foster an engaging, integrated learning environment for all students.

After 31 years in education, she still finds joy in providing her Sagamore Hills Elementary School students with memorable learning experiences, like hands-on, project-based STEM activities, that relate her students' classroom activities to the real world.

Explore»See more of the AJC Celebrating Teachers honorees here

For her work as an innovative science teacher, she was awarded the 2018 Torch Bearers’ Award for Excellence in Science Education this past spring. She was awarded the Region ll Teacher of the Year for Dekalb County in 2016.

Beyond her knack for making science exciting, Spencer also has nurtured a love for gardening in many of her students over the years. As a certified Georgia Master Gardener and a facilitator for Monarchs Across Georgia. In the past year alone, she created monarch butterfly research gardens, a bog/pollinator garden and worm bins for composting with grades second through fourth. Her fifth graders even started their own plant business growing vegetables in the school's greenhouse. She has received over $25,000 in grant money over her career and most recently received a $500 BEE grant from Dekalb County Federation of Garden Clubs, and more than $1,000 from Donors Choose along with plant donations from Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Dunwoody Nature Center. Through Stephanie's efforts the school's gardens have been certified as a Wildlife Habitat, a Pollinator Habitat, a Monarch Weigh Station and are now part of the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.

Versatility is one of Spencer’s strongest qualities. During her 21 years in Dekalb County, she has been a reading specialist, reading recovery teacher, taught grades first through fourth grade and is currently the K-5 STEM teacher at Sagamore Hills Elementary School. No matter her role at a school, Spencer makes it a priority to keep kids engaged in nature, bring science to life and

Incorporate technology in daily instruction.

“My passion is sharing my excitement for learning and the outdoors with my students,” she said.