Perseverance and Passion: Stephanie Lapshan

Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.
— George Evans

We hear so much about teachers leaving. Schools having issues holding on to the good ones. For all sorts of reasons: higher pay, change in leadership, a school’s environment. Some realize that teaching is not for them.

Well I say, hats off to those who love what they do. Those who are invested in our children.

Stephanie Lapshan always had music playing in the morning, most of the time something soothing. Her students seemed more focused with it on, humming along while doing their morning work. Her classroom was strategically organized to make learning orderly and fun. There were maps, pictures and literature on the walls.

On my daughter’s first day I explained to Ms. Lapshan that my girl can be a handful–and I am an active mom. If you let her run your class, I warned, she will. She laughed and assured me she “has this.”

Daily reflections started with Good and Bad News checks. Students would share how their day was when they got home the night before. Her responses always motivated students to be the best them.

Ms. Lapshan rewarded youth for positive behavior and growth on their work. A few times she called home about my daughter, not just to share what she was doing wrong but how proud she was that Victoria was being more responsible.

Victoria became so comfortable with Ms. Lapshan that she shared home issues freely with her. Her teacher became a apart of our village.

That was three years ago. Ms. Lapshan still works with fifth-graders in that school. She’s proof a lot of good teachers stay. They invest in their students and the schools they work in.

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and Ms. Lapshan is my teacher of the week. She’s 30, has a master’s degree in education and has spent seven of her eight years in teaching at the Detroit Enterprise Academy.

DST: Why Detroit?

Lapshan: I attended Michigan State University for my undergraduate degree and was given the opportunity to work in urban-setting schools. I fell in love with it instantly. Teaching fulfills me, and I felt that working in an urban environment could give me the chance to be a consistent positive presence in my students’ lives.

DST: Name one experience that prompted you to work in your field?

Lapshan: I was born into an education-driven family! Two of my aunts, my mother and both of my sisters are all teachers ranging from kindergarten to high school to special education. Growing up, I saw how much the women in my family loved their jobs and what an impact they were making and I wanted that same feeling.

DST: How would you like to see the city grow?

Lapshan: My dreams for Detroit are focused around my dreams for my students. They deserve to live in a maintained city that keeps them safe without a landscape of abandoned houses on their way to school. With reconstruction and development, the population will increase again resulting in a thriving community with more job opportunities.

DST: What would you tell a youth that you wished someone told you?

Lapshan: I try to ingrain in my students that knowledge is power. Regardless of what hardships we’re experiencing at home or outside school, NO ONE can take an education away from you.

School can be that escape from the stress that awaits you outside those doors at the end of the day. Put yourself in a position where you have choices when you graduate and turn 18 by staying focused on education.

DST: What would you like to share with others?

Lapshan: Dreams do come true and when we persevere for what we’re passionate about, anything is possible.


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