Stephanie Hyatt, National Fellowship, Cohort 3
State and City of Residence:
English Teacher -- Honors 10, AP Lang, AP Lit
What brought you to work in education?
Although I think education was always calling me, I didn't heed the siren's song until I was 31. By then, I had already spent a successful 10 years working in technology marketing. As cliche-driven as it sounds, I had a health scare -- a very early cancer diagnosis -- that made me start to re-think my life. I found myself sitting on an airplane to Madrid asking the question, "What am I doing to leave this world a better place?" The answer could not be centered around P&L statements. When I got home, I submitted an application to teach. I have never looked back.
Tell us about something that you have done in education that you feel has made or will make a big difference for your community?
Thanks to my affiliation with America Achieves, I was able to serve on the CCSSO's Educator Engagement Committee. As part of that committee, I was able to fly to Washington to help advise on the ESSA legislation. I became a voice for the ELA Common Core standards that year, co-facilitating a webinar for state superintendents, and speaking to both the Education Writers Association and the CCSSO annual convention (at the invitation of my state Superintendent!) on what Common Core teaching really looks like. I felt like I was able to be a voice for teachers and a reminder to our leaders that standards are NOT about testing. We need high academic standards to facilitate student achievement and to create a graduated roadmap for teachers at each grade level.
What’s your favorite part about being an America Achieves Fellow?
America Achieves opened doors for me in buildings I didn't even know existed. While having my voice heard was sometimes (often!) terrifying, I love that I have been able to be a voice for the countless teachers doing their job every day in classrooms. Recently, I found myself calling Senators daily about a certain cabinet-level nomination. I never would have had the agency to do that before America Achieves. America Achieves sparked the flame of my inner activist.
If you could change just one thing about our current education system, what would it be?
Believe it or not, scheduling. I have come to the conclusion that our current 8-3:30, super-scheduled, conformity-laden system is not meeting the needs of all students. If I had my way (and Alabama has just started opening the door for Charters -- anyone want to start one with me?), I'd love to see a more student-centered, technology-rich solution that allow for student flexibility and choice in learning. Oh, for unlimited funding!
What’s the best thing a student ever said to you?
"I don't know what it is about you, but you make me want to make you proud of me." Still makes me tear up. And I am proud of them. Every single one.
What is one fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
Everyone knows that I talk with my hands. A lot. What they don't know is that I'm fluent in American Sign Language. My grandmother was deaf.
The lead high school English teacher for Huntsville City Schools, Stephanie Hyatt teaches AP English Language and Composition at Lee High School in Huntsville, Alabama. Stephanie is also 1 0f 10 educators to sit on the CCSSO Educator Engagement Panel. Hyatt provides professional development for teachers and leads workshops for AP English students through the A Plus College Ready initiative and Laying the Foundation. In 2012, Hyatt was named Teacher of the Year for Huntsville City Schools and in 2014 was awarded an Alumni of Distinction of award from the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Hyatt serves on the teaching faculty of Concordia University Online, teaching courses in the MEd program. Hyatt is the author of the teacher manual for Language and Composition, The Art of Voice (McGraw Hill, 2014) and was a content creator for McGraw Hill's Scoreboard and Onboard AP English Language products. Hyatt holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Alabama, Huntsville, an EdS in teaching and learning from Liberty University, and is currently writing her dissertation for an EdD in curriculum and instruction, also at Liberty University.