Feature Teacher: Stephanie Shocki
Each month we profile a different teacher in the Camden and Rockport public school systems so our community gets to know the strength of the teaching staff in our classrooms.
Stephanie Shocki’s small office is centered around a circular table surrounded by little chairs. It is the pure essence of elementary school. Ms. Shocki is the new Literacy Coach and Title 1 Reading Interventionist at the Camden-Rockport Elementary School and she loves it.
Prior to this job, Ms. Shocki spent eight years as a second-grade teacher. She has been in our district for the past two years having taught in Connecticut before that. She said that her transition from Connecticut to Midcoast Maine was smooth because she already understood the workings of second-graders and was able to get right into teaching here.
During her time teaching, Ms. Shocki has always been drawn to literacy. This led to her becoming the Literacy Coach and Title 1 Reading Interventionist this past year. She now spends her time in different classrooms and works with the students and helps teachers with students who are struggling. She said she works at “spreading that love and appreciation of literacy.” “Making personal connections with students has been my favorite aspect,” she smiled.
She also enjoys helping students choose books to read and sharing some of her favorite books with them. Because of her experience teaching second grade, she has a good idea of what books third- and fourth-graders have read and which ones they will like.
When I asked about her favorite facet of being the literacy coach, she replied, “It is kind of like all the classrooms are mine now. Before, I was limited to my classroom and I really took a high ownership of those students in my class. I really didn’t venture outside of my classroom, definitely not outside of my grade level too often, because teachers’ time is so limited.” She really enjoys being able to interact with all of the students and says, “It is kind of like being a classroom teacher because I am always thinking of where I need to focus tomorrow.”
Ms. Shocki’s entire life has revolved around education. “I grew up with a mother who took me into her classroom for as long as I can remember. She taught in middle school and she ended up retiring after 35 years,” she said. “It was always something that I could picture myself doing and then I started babysitting and really enjoyed spending time with younger kids. I enjoy their sense of humor,” she chuckled.
Stephanie Shocki got her teaching degree at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and initially taught first grade but soon accepted a position as a second grade teacher. “I still say that second grade is the best grade, although I am sure that I would have some teachers say otherwise. I am little biased towards second grade. They are old enough that they can do a lot of things independently and they have a pretty good sense of humor but they are not too old. But, it has been nice seeing all the grade levels,” she nodded. After attending Roger Williams University, Ms. Shocki got her master’s degree in literacy at Central Connecticut University.
Throughout her career in education, Ms. Shocki has been most inspired by, “the amazing amount of care and consideration that teachers, as far as a staff, as far as a whole school, put into students and into figuring out what makes them tick and what may help them that is outside of the parameters of a quintessential school day. I have seen an amazing amount of integrity from other people. It is an incredible thing,” she said with sparkling eyes. “Then, seeing the faces of students that come back and seeing the way their faces light up when they see their teachers from years past,” she continued. Her smile got even wider.
While in Ms. Shocki’s office, I couldn’t help but notice the many vibrant crayon, marker, and pencil drawings and cards that hung on her walls. “They are just nice little reminders when I don’t get to see them (students) that, you know, you always want to see that you have made a difference and I think that is why you become a teacher; because you have a sort of self-serving idea that you want to be important to someone,” she said. We both gazed at the whimsical and playful drawings. “That one,” she gestures at a drawing, “the first day of school I went downstairs to visit my now-third graders and one of my students brought me that picture.”
Elephants are a common theme in Ms. Shocki’s wall of artwork. She really likes elephants. Hint, hint, students; there is still some free wall space in her office. In fact, all of us should thank Ms. Shocki for bringing her love of literacy and young children to our district. We are all the better for it. Bring on the crayon elephants!
Camden Hills Regional High School sophomore Lucas Fischer is an intern in the superintendent's office.