Success Stories: Tracy

Tracy Stephenson: From Coppin to Classroom

Tracy Stephenson

In 2009, Tracy Stephenson was a paraeducator working in Baltimore City. Today, she is a kindergarten teacher with her own classroom teaching at Thomas Jefferson Elementary & Middle School. Tracy achieved this goal through Coppin State University’s Teacher Education program, from which she graduated in December 2016.

“I graduated on a Thursday, and started work that Monday,” Tracy says. “When we graduated, we had jobs. The turnaround for teachers here in Baltimore City is very fast.”

Tracy attended Coppin while working full-time as a paraeducator and raising two children of her own. “It was very helpful that I could work and still maintain my life,” she says. Tracy worked as a paraeducator at Thomas Jefferson, and the administration was very supportive of her. She is now teaching in the original classroom she started in at Thomas Jefferson.

Coppin’s para to teacher program inspired Tracy to set and achieve her goals. “I’ve always been drawn to kids,” she relates. “I had my own daycare before I started as a para, so I’ve always been with children. Once I became a para and I heard about the para to teacher program, I figured, ‘Why not?’ Coppin and Baltimore City helped me to become a teacher. I probably never would have thought about it at that early stage, but having the program and going to orientation made me think about having my own classroom.”

Tracy’s time at Coppin prepared her for this goal. She had classroom experience as a para, but Coppin taught her how to build relationships with the students and the aspects of the job outside of the classroom, like Common Core, lesson plans, paperwork, and more.

I graduated on a Thursday, and started work that Monday. When we graduated, we had jobs.

“Coppin professors really drill what you need into you, so you know what you need to know,” Tracy says. “All the educational classes were my favorite. And the internship was great for me; it really puts you right in action.”

Coppin’s professors gave Tracy the guidance and resources to succeed. “For me, I needed that guidance to keep me going, and be reassured that they were there for me,” she says. “Dr. Leontye Lewis set up presenters to come in from Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, and other school districts to come talk to us.”

Her advice for current students and those considering teaching is to take advantage of the resources Coppin offers, like professors and the Teacher Education Advisement and Retention Center (TEAR-C). “I would tell them – if they’re passionate about doing it, to do it,” she says. “But it is hard work, so they need that passion. If not, they may get overwhelmed and it may not be for you. You need that passion.”

Tracy’s experience at Coppin and with teaching has been very positive. “It’s been great,” she says. I love teaching. I love being with the kids and interacting with them. 24 little ones is a lot, but it’s good.”

In the next few years, Tracy plans to go back to school for her master’s degree. She will also be taking the Praxis II Exam in Special Education in a few months. Coppin helped prepare Tracy to achieve her goal of running her own classroom in Baltimore City, where she was born and raised.


Written by Alice Stanley

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