TCA teacher honored with award for courage in education
Stephanie Howell watched the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986 as a grade-schooler sitting on the floor of her classroom. She cried along with millions of other Americans when the shuttle exploded on live television, killing all seven crew members.
One of the astronauts on board was Christa McAuliffe, a high school social studies teacher who was lauded for her courage. More than 30 years later, Howell is a teacher for Lincoln Public Schools at The Career Academy and was recently honored with the Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education.
“I was incredibly humbled when I found out I was selected to receive it,” said Howell, who teaches psychology and government courses.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Education and Human Sciences honors a Nebraska teacher annually with the award. The award’s website says it’s meant to honor teachers who exemplify the character of McAuliffe through “excellence, commitment, creativity, the ability to inspire and courage.”
Howell said to her, courage in teaching means “taking risks. It means thinking outside of the box and advocating for what is best for your students. Sometimes it means being willing to step outside of your comfort zone as an educator to make this happen.”
Howell served in the U.S. Army for three years, followed by jobs at the Nebraska State Penitentiary and Lancaster County Jail, before finding her calling as a teacher. She taught social studies at Lincoln Northeast High School before moving to TCA three years ago. She was an early adopter of technological tools, has focused on non-fiction writing with critical thinking skills, created a peer mentoring group for students and started a before-school study hall for struggling students.
Howell felt humbled to be singled out for the award, but talked more about her fellow teachers than herself.
“I think what meant the most to me was reading the recommendations from colleagues, students and parents. That's a gift that not many educators get and I know I will forever cherish those words,” she said. “I recognize there are numerous educators across our state who are working tirelessly to help their students be successful and I consider myself blessed to be able to do what I love every day.”
Published: August 9, 2019, Updated: August 9, 2019