Joanna Stevens pictured herself as an educator since she was a child.
Being the daughter of a teacher and a 4-H extension agent, she always felt drawn to education. She explored other career options like accounting and pharmacy, but when she started tutoring after school, she realized how much she enjoyed helping her peers.
“From a young age, I wanted to be a teacher. All I ever knew was working with students,” she said.
Stevens, a National Board Certified Teacher from Garrard County High School (GCHS), said she teaches to equip and empower her students to chase their dreams. Her ultimate goal is to make her students’ dreams a reality.
She will be the second teacher to serve on the board as a nonvoting member. She was selected from 19 applicants and recommended by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) Application Review Special Committee for the 2022-2023 non-voting teacher position. She will fill the seat that was vacated by Allison Slone in April and begin her term on July 1.
She’s excited to learn what goes on behind the scenes and is hopeful she will be able to provide a voice from the classroom.
“For teachers, a lot of the time, we just worry about what happens within these four walls. We don’t have a lot of experience with how the decisions are made. A lot of those decisions affect us, affect our students,” she said. “Just getting a glimpse into the decision-making on why we do the things we do is something I’m looking forward to.”
“It is so important to include teachers’ voices in the conversation to improve the classroom experience,” said Education Commissioner and Chief Learner Jason E. Glass. “Joanna’s unique perspective as a teacher in a rural school district will be a necessary addition to the Kentucky Board of Education, and we are excited to work with her to give Kentucky students the best education experience possible.”
One of Stevens’ priorities is teacher recruitment, and she said she wants to work with the KBE to ensure the state has the best educators in the classroom.
Stevens was named the 2014 Kentucky High School Teacher of the Year and began her career in education in Fayette County. She has 12 years of experience teaching secondary mathematics, including eight years at her alma mater, Lincoln County School District.
She earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky.
Stevens – who teaches Algebra II, Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus and AP Computer Science Principles – has served as chair of the GCHS Mathematics Department, as a mathematics coach and as a new teacher mentor since 2020.
She taught mathematics at Lincoln County High School from 2011 to 2019, where she also was the math content lead specialist, a leadership team member, Kentucky Teacher Internship Program Resource Teacher, the writing program review standard lead, summer school coordinator, schoolwide coaching session instructor and ACT preparation teacher.
Stevens taught mathematics at Lafayette High School (Fayette County) from 2010-2011 and served on the Career Preparation Committee.
Stevens said she is humbled to be a representative from a rural school district and is grateful the state values teacher and student representation.
“I’m truly honored to work on the board and I’m very appreciative and thankful that our state recognizes the importance of teacher and student voice,” she said.
Stevens’ term will expire on June 30, 2023.