|27 Sep 2023|
|2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize|
Stephanie’s interest in education stemmed from watching her mother’s total dedication and passion as a Chemistry teacher – an interest that eventually resulted in Stephanie becoming a Physics teacher. Seeing her mother explain abstract concepts simply – through their connection to ordinary life – ignited a passion in Stephanie for the sciences and the teaching profession. Her teaching journey started as an undergraduate student, volunteering to teach Physics and Mathematics at rural schools that lacked teachers. Teaching in these communities made her realise how many students (especially female students) have a phobia for STEM subjects or courses. This experience strengthened her resolve to address the gender disparity in STEM and ignite a passion for the sciences in all her students.
Stephanie currently teaches in Iju Senior Grammar School on the outskirts of Lagos, a public school in an underserved community. Most students in attendance come from low-income households and have to work to help support their families. Some do not have access to Internet connections and the required textbooks: school facilities are barely sufficient to cater for a teeming population of over two thousand students. Until Stephanie’s arrival, many students had lost interest in striving for excellence, and many female students were underperforming in the sciences.
To ignite students’ curiosity and sustain their interest in learning, Stephanie employed a student-centred approach – using bitesize explainer videos, animations, hands-on activities, edutech tools and gamification to encourage mastery of concepts. She also started her Girls-Pro-STEM initiative in 2018 to generate interest in STEM amongst girls in public secondary schools. As part of this initiative, Stephanie has partnered with international organisations to provide training, support and mentorship to over 200 girls, many of whom have gone on to represent their school in national and international competitions. Stephanie’s is the first public school to win first prize in the Agbami Chevron Innovative STEM Project Competition (for building a smart self-powered house), and over 80% of her students have gained admission to tertiary institutions. After losing one of her students to suicide in 2020, and seeing how others struggled with their mental health (which is often seen as a taboo subject), Stephanie also created a platform called “Safe Space” which has been used by over 200 students to access help on mental health issues.
Stephanie was selected as one of 16 Atlantic Fellows for 2022-2023, and is a 2022 Fellow of the prestigious Fulbright Teacher Excellence Achievement Program. She was also selected as one of the Top 10 educators globally for the 2021 Wakelet Educators International Community Impact Award. If she wins the Global Teacher Prize, Stephanie will donate 20 per cent of the funds towards other finalists’ projects, and 30 per cent to her Girls-Pro-STEM initiative with the aim of covering all schools in Lagos Education District One. The funds would also be channeled into organising innovative STEM competitions that encourage critical thinking and problem solving – as well as a scholarship scheme for female students who aspire to study STEM courses but are limited due to finances.