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2021 Jackson T. Stephens Outstanding Faculty Award

Congratulations to Mrs. Tracy Peterson, First Grade Teacher, for being presented with the 2021 Jackson T. Stephens Outstanding Faculty Award! We acknowledged Mrs. Peterson and her accomplishments during our annual Convocation service.

The Jackson T. Stephens Outstanding Faculty Award is presented bi-annually to a faculty member who best exemplifies the qualities which characterized Mr. Stephens’ life and work. Along with the Jackson T. Stephens Outstanding Senior Award, the Faculty Award was established by Mr. and Mrs. Warren A. Stephens in May of 2004 and represents the highest honor bestowed upon members of the Episcopal Collegiate faculty and senior class.  The awards are named for Mr. Jackson T. Stephens in honor of his life-long support of education and the significant role he played in making Episcopal Collegiate School a reality.

Mrs. Catherine Schuhmacher, Head of Lower School, read the following regarding Mrs. Peterson and her accomplishments:

“Today, we recognize the 2021 Lower School recipient of the Jackson T. Stephens Outstanding Faculty Award. This individual was chosen for her daily commitment to embody the qualities mentioned previously about Mr. Stephens and those that support the mission of Episcopal Collegiate School. 

Celebrating this Lower School teacher is such a joy and honor because she is typically the one who celebrates others. This teacher began her career in her home state of California. Over the past nearly four decades, she has positively impacted hundreds of students spanning from preschool to college age, but she has definitely found her sweet spot here at Episcopal in 1st grade. 

This teacher begins each day bright and early and is always prepared for her class. She uses every break and planning period to make sure that she has an engaging and meaningful lesson for her students. She is intentional in making sure there is a delicate balance of fun-loving "kid stuff" along with meaningful, measurable academic growth.

When walking into this teacher’s classroom, you can feel the love and devotion that she has for her students. She goes out of her way to make sure every child she meets feels supported, cared for, and that they all know they have their own “special kind of smart.” As we all know, building a connection with students is key for any teacher’s success. This teacher goes above and beyond in this department. Any time she has a student join her classroom mid-year, this teacher goes out of her way to make sure the student and family feel prepared and excited for their new school. She has made many weekend visits to a new family’s home to deliver materials and to make sure everyone gets off to a great start! 

Just this year during In-Service she took extra time to welcome a student new to Episcopal by showing her around their classroom and telling her about all of the exciting things they were going to learn together in 1st grade. 

This teacher doesn’t just care for students; she shows deep care for her colleagues as well. When there is an illness or concern with a colleague, this teacher is the first one to organize meals or offer help. She has led the Sunshine Committee multiple times in the Lower School, and has fed us all many tasty “Tracy cakes” and cookies over the years. In fact, just yesterday she brought an entire tray of cookies, which were delicious by the way, for Lower School teachers to enjoy just because. She also decorates the work room with fun and funny pictures each semester, again just because that’s the kind of person she is. 

When we moved to remote learning in March of 2020, this teacher led the charge with her motto “Win the Day!” And, that’s what we did during that time. We tried to win each day! During those challenging times, she was a bright light who reminded us all how important it was to remain as positive as we could, despite the seemingly endless frustrations and challenges.

And she would tell you, technology is not her favorite thing, but she has worked diligently these past two years as we’ve had to adjust to remote and hybrid learning. She took notes, she practiced, she sought out additional help...she did whatever was necessary to meet her students' needs using technology. And, at the end of the day, this teacher always does what is necessary to provide the most engaging experience for her students and help them succeed.

Most recently, this teacher has brought awareness to the ways students learn differently through a writing collaboration with one of her previous students. As she will tell you, this was no easy task, particularly during COVID. From meeting with the illustrator in parking lots, and working through the editing process, she can tell you first hand that this was a true labor of love, but one that she can’t wait to do again. Her first book, titled Cartwheels, was co-written with Episcopal student Sloane Lafrance. This book celebrates Sloane’s learning journey from her perspective. It also provides a glimpse into the magic that happens each day in this teacher’s classroom when she helps students find their “special kind of smart.”

Over the summer, this teacher took Cartwheels on the road, as did many of our families, so you may have seen social media posts of this title at the beach, in the mountains, or even overseas. She’s already working on her next collaboration and has plans for many in the future. 

Well, today Tracy has truly won the day. It is my pleasure and great honor to present Tracy Peterson with the 2021 Jackson T. Stephens Outstanding Teacher Award.”

Congratulations, Mrs. Peterson!

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