Meg Stewart, a second-year special education teacher at Bret Harte Middle School (East Oakland’s Laurel neighborhood), is one of four Teach For America members in the United States to win the Sue Lehmann Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Go Ms. Stewart! Way to represent Oakland.
Here’s the news release, which has more background about her classroom and the other TFA winners:
This year’s recipients are Megan Brousseau (New York) in the high school science category, Julia King (Chicago) in the elementary category, Meg Stewart (Bay Area) in the special education category, and Maurice Thomas (Atlanta) in the high school humanities category. The award was established in honor of the leadership and support of longtime national board member Sue Lehmann.
General education students regularly ask Meg Stewart how they can get into her special education classroom. Her room is designed around an aviation theme, with desks arrayed at the beginning of the year like planes in formation, the ceiling covered with a cloud-swept sky, individual progress plans mapped out as winding flight patterns on the wall (winding, she tells her students, because that represents the difficult and uniquely personal journey of working hard to learn), and each student’s “passport” binder stamped to signify their acquisition of math standards and reading goals. Stewart’s absolute obsession with having her students succeed and become lifelong self-advocates is evident in how her middle schoolers present themselves and their capabilities, and it is made manifest in their academic achievement.
Last year, Stewart’s students demonstrated 1.89 years of reading growth on the Developmental Reading Assessment and achieved a mastery level of 94 percent on prioritized standards. To invest her students in the daily reading practice necessary to achieve this growth, Stewart created an ersatz reading competition with a rival middle school. Every week her students gauged their progress against the competition by keeping track of the number of books read and A-Z levels passed; their competitive spirit kept them energized and invested.
According to Stewart’s program director, “Every student in Meg Stewart’s classroom can tell you what they are working on and why, and each and every one of them has confidence they will get there by the end of the year, because they will.”