[Nameplate] Partly Cloudy ~ 86°F  
High: 88°F ~ Low: 74°F
Monday, Sep. 1, 2014

Portageville teacher earns high honor

Monday, January 29, 2007

(Photo)
Linda Stevens
PORTAGEVILLE - In her 27 years as an educator, Linda Stevens estimates she has taught some 3,000 young people. Some have gone on to be teachers just like her, others keep in touch with an occasional phone call or visit and at least one has nominated her as a teacher who has had the "greatest influence on their lives, either as a student or an individual."

Because of that nomination, Stevens was selected as one of the National Honor Roll's Outstanding American Teachers.

The honor didn't come as any surprise to Jason Aycock, principal at Portageville High School, where Stevens has taught all but one year of her career. "She is the type of teacher who puts everything before herself, especially her students. Her students come first," said Aycock. "She is a teacher with a golden heart when it comes to students."

To make his point, he noted the many activities she was involved with in addition to her teaching duties, from student council to cheerleading to quizbowl. Although she retired a year ago, when the district was unable to find a foreign language instructor, Aycock said he turned to Stevens, who willingly agreed to stay on, teaching five classes of Spanish this year.

Stevens said it was an easy decision to remain involved in teaching. "I love high school kids -- they are full of life and energy. For them, this is a great time to be alive," she said.

Over the years of teaching English, speech, career development and French as well as Spanish, Stevens said she has always strived for one thing: "I just teach with heart. If I can give anything to them that they can carry on the inside, they will carry that for life. If it is just lessons from the textbook, then I have failed," she said.

While she has tried to impart lessons of life along with school lessons, Stevens admits her students have taught her as well. She said she has learned to be flexible and more importantly, to listen and show students she cares about them as individuals.

A native of Portageville, Stevens is the daughter of Shirrell and Louise Smith. She credits her parents with providing her with a strong work ethic.

Her own family -- her husband, John, along with her children Erica and Douglas Fisher and stepson, Terry Stevens -- have also provided insight into her career, she said. "I have always had the habit of treating my students like I want other teachers to treat my children," Stevens said.

With more than a quarter of a century in education, Stevens readily notes that almost everywhere she goes she runs into former students. Today, she is teaching some of the children of her former students, she added.

As far as being named an Outstanding American Teacher, Stevens was obviously pleased, but said she prefers to remain out of the spotlight. However, she would like to know who nominated for the honor.

"Even though you kind of have an idea I might be making a difference, it would be nice to know the particulars," said Stevens. "Then, I would like to thank them and tell them how much I appreciate it."