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What's Up Magazine

Stephanie Fenstermaker

Jan 09, 2017 03:48PM ● By Cate Reynolds

Stephanie Fenstermaker

The Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, Baltimore


Years teaching at Boys’ Latin: 3

Currently teaching: 10th–12th grade Honors & Regular English, American Literature, Contemporary Nonfiction

Proudest teaching moment: “During my third year of teaching, a former student emailed me during his freshman year of college; this was one of the quietest students in my senior English class the year before, so I was surprised that he took the initiative to contact me. He was so excited and proud to tell me about an A he earned on an English paper. He explained that he used all the resources and advice I had given him the year before, and he just wanted to thank me for preparing him so well.”

Teaching philosophy: “I tell my students I am not concerned with them remembering in 15 years who Macbeth killed to become king or who is considered the antagonist in Fences (blasphemy coming from an English teacher, I know!). But, what matters to me is that they recall and implement the skills they learned while studying these texts. No matter the profession, the skills—critical thinking and writing, speaking, and listening—obtained in an English class will be utilized. I want them to be confident readers, writers, analyzers, and questioners even outside the four walls of my classroom.”

Toughest challenge facing educators: “I believe technology is an issue for two reasons. One, students are more ‘text’ savvy than ‘tech’ savvy in many ways; they can snapchat and tweet like nobody’s business but struggle with formatting a document…since students have been exposed to technology from day one, they just accept it for what it is; there is no more inquisitiveness in regard to figuring out how something works or needs to be done. Two, students can be distracted by the bells and whistles of technology causing them to lose focus on the content that matters. I integrate technology only in ways that enhance my curriculum like using timers to keep activities on task and discussion boards to elicit dialogue outside of the classroom. In this instance, the value of technology is in what the students are doing and creating, not how.”

Whether in or out of the classroom, Stephanie Fenstermaker knows how to connect with students in a meaningful way. As an Upper School English Teacher and Middle and Upper School Ice Hockey Coach at Boys’ Latin, she consistently challenges her boys to think critically and be the best versions of themselves. Never one to shy away from demanding materials and texts, the Glen Burnie resident consistently encourages her students to strive for true excellence, both academically and personally. In everything she does – from exploring the modern impact of a story with students to helping players hone their skills on the ice – Stephanie genuinely cares for her students and is personally committed to their success. The analytical skills our boys gain in her classroom help prepare them for college and beyond.” —Christopher J. Post, Headmaster

Back to What's Up? Teachers 2017