Stephanie has served as seventh-grade science teacher and assistant girls' coach for Darlington School Soccer Academy since 2014. She holds a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of North Alabama, where she played collegiate soccer for four years. She also has an M.Ed. in Health and Physical Education from Valdosta State University, where she served most recently as a graduate assistant women's soccer coach. In addition, Stephanie has her USSF National “B” Coaching License. A member of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators, she is American Red Cross certified in CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and Health Care Providers and has an Active IQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor Certificate.
This is your first year at Darlington. How has the experience differed from your expectations?
After having my interview on campus and meeting what seemed to be the whole faculty population I had a good understanding of what the Darlington Community was like. I appreciated having the chance to see Darlington as a stranger looking from the outside in. Now that I work and live on campus I feel that the insight I acquired on my visit was a true representation of how life at Darlington really is.
What made you decide to teach middle school rather than high school?
The position I applied for was assistant coach with the Soccer Academy as well as Middle School science teacher. I absolutely love teaching my seventh-graders; they have very inquisitive minds and ask questions outside the box. Many lessons we go off on tangents because of the questions being asked for example we would be talking about how we have only explored five percent of the ocean and eventually by the end of class we were talking about astronauts and water. Being a Middle School teacher I am able to give each student as much information about as many different areas of science so that later on in life they remember the parts that they enjoyed and use that to decide on a profession.
In class, what's your secret to getting kids excited about science?
I like to take a very hands-on approach with all my classes. I like them to be able to get physically involved in their learning by doing experiments and dissections. So far we have collected organisms from around campus by digging a hole and placing a cup in the ground, soil chemical tests, dissections of a fetal pig and squid (soon to be a frog), and the most recent was extracting DNA from a strawberry. It is very important for the students to see things as they remember these activities over just doing lectures and worksheets.
Teaching seventh-graders science and coaching high school soccer must be very different tasks. What kind of mental transition do you go through to go from teacher mode to coach mode?
I treat my seventh-grade students as I treat my Soccer Academy players—like adults. The only transition that I go through mentally is responding from being called Ms. Bradshaw in the classroom to Stephanie on the field. In both positions I am ultimately teaching, whether that be the organ systems of the body or how to check for the ball and curve a run.
What does being a Darlington Tiger mean to you?
As a Darlington Tiger I am one of the very few residential faculty to be fortunate to live in Cooper House and have the opportunity to mentor and be a role model to first-year girls. I see myself as part of a family here at Darlington.