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Feature Teacher - Mr. Donald "Jimmie" Stephens

Photo submitted
A proud Wildcat legacy
By Cristina Wright,
Superintendent,
Licking R-VIII Schools

Relationships matter. In the personal and professional lives of adults, we know this to be true, but in the business of educating young people, this is most evident when someone masters the art of showing children they matter. One of Licking R-VIII School District’s teachers is regularly described by students and staff as someone who “really listens and cares.” Mr. Donald J. “Jimmie” Stephens II was recently chosen as this month’s Feature Teacher for this very reason.
Mr. Stephens graduated from Licking High School in 1996. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Education from Southwest Missouri University in 2000 and added course credits from Drury University. Mr. Stephens credits his wife, Mrs. Amber Stephens, for encouraging him to pursue a career in teaching after working in the business sector for six years. Mr. Stephens started his teaching career in Salem and returned to his Alma Mater in 2013. After six years as a proud Wildcat, Mr. Stephens says he still enjoys being around young people every day. Here at Licking School District, we believe it shows.
Mr. Stephens can easily be identified by his warm and friendly personality and his radiant smile. He works hard to make connections with students by asking questions about their lives, their interests, their extra-curricular activities, and their progress at school. Before asking students to take risks in the classroom, Mr. Stephens recognizes that he first needs to build rapport with young people – to show them that he cares and is interested in each individual as a person. It is obvious that Mr. Stephens enjoys his content, social studies. Mr. Stephens describes each of his classes as “his favorite,” but he lists American Government as his favorite course to teach. Following right behind, however, he lists World History and American History, so it’s difficult for him to choose just one!  
When asked about his professional goals for the future, Mr. Stephens says he hopes to continue his career on a strong note – with students feeling prepared and performing well on End of Course exams for the state. Each day Mr. Stephens has a positive impact on those around him. When asked to reflect on his own inspiration, Mr. Stephens is quick to share details about his family members. After teaching in his classroom for a couple of years, Mr. Stephens discovered, during a conversation with a retired teacher, that Mr. Stephens teaches in the same classroom in which his own grandfather previously taught. Although he lost his grandfather before he was born, Mr. Stephens explains that he has great admiration for his parents and siblings who have continued his grandparents’ lessons about the importance of strong work ethic, a reminder to always treat people as he would want to be treated, and to be grateful for the many blessings given to him.
Carrying on this tradition of making the world a better place by starting at home, Mr. Stephens shares that his greatest wealth is members of his own family -- his wife, Amber, and children Aubrie, Austin, Avery, and Audie. Mr. Stephens points out how proud he is to have the opportunity to work beside his wife, the district’s special education director, and his appreciation for his fellow teachers. Humility, compassion, and passion for improvement are qualities Mr. Stephens embodies in his home life, in the classroom, and as a coach. These characteristics are an asset to members of the Licking community, and we are proud to recognize Mr. Stephens as Licking R-VIII School District’s Feature Teacher.
                  

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