Breckenridge Teacher Delivers Keynote on Childhood Success

Stephanie Doyle (second from right) is honored by Roanoke Mayor David Bowers earlier this year.
Stephanie Doyle (second from right) is honored by Roanoke Mayor David Bowers earlier this year.

Virginia’s Teacher of the Year, Stephanie Doyle, from Breckenridge Middle School in Roanoke, was a featured speaker at last week’s 10th annual Copenhaver Institute for teaching and learning at Roanoke College.  Doyle talked about her program supporting young girls as they approach their teenaged years.

Doyle, honored earlier this year by Roanoke City Council as well, is a Roanoke College alumna.  Her presentation was entitled “Breaking Down the Barriers,” which was described as building on the notion that “every child comes to school with invisible baggage.” The subject coincided with the event’s theme, “The Changing Face of Who We Teach.”  Doyle contends it is the educator’s job to sift away that baggage – a broken home, economic troubles, etc., to ensure that learning takes place.

The 6th grade history teacher describes her “GROW” girls program (Girls Rising Onto Womanhood), which is currently seeking non-profit status, as “a mentoring program for girls in grades 7 through 12. [They] are focused on getting through life’s bumps in the road that they experience through adolescence,” said Doyle.

Doyle is hoping to extend GROW beyond Breckenridge soon, noting that some of her graduates are currently enrolled at William Fleming High School.

“These girls are fantastic,” said Doyle, “[many] have experienced great difficulties in their lives. They have done such wonderful things.”

Seeing them grow is Doyle’s reward, with a program she said focuses on academic and social skill-building.  Her luncheon keynote address focused on relationships and breaking down the barriers so that students are more successful.

“Getting girls ready for the future,” has meant trips to Washington D.C., etiquette classes and other programs that provide a well-rounded experience.

“We try to make sure the girls are fully prepared for when they get out into the workforce or on to college,” Doyle said.

Students must apply for the invitation-only GROW program at Breckenridge.

Doyle was named Teacher of the Year for the Commonwealth this past spring.

“It’s a wonderful honor to be representing 100,000 teachers and other educators across the state of Virginia,” she said.

The Margaret Sue Copenhaver Institute for Teaching and Learning provides development opportunities for Pre K-12 teachers, administrators and Roanoke College students. Two other keynote speakers at this year’s three-day conference had backgrounds in team building, co-teaching and shared problem solving.

“We want to make sure all students across the state of Virginia are successful,” said Doyle.

Some of her earlier graduates have now made it through high school and are ready for college. “Ready” is the key word for Doyle.

“As a teacher, that’s our number one goal and focus. The greatest reward is seeing your students succeed,” she said.