2018 SACS Teacher of the Year

Stephanie Merkling Named SACS Teacher of the Year
Posted on 05/18/2018

Homestead High School’s Environmental Science Teacher, Stephanie Merkling, Named Southwest Allen County Schools 2018 District Teacher of the Year

Friday morning, Dr. Phil Downs, Superintendent, Southwest Allen County Schools, announced Homestead High School (HHS) teacher, Stephanie Merkling, as the district’s 2018 Teacher of the Year (TOY). 

 “This is amazing,” said Merkling, as she accepted a plaque.  “I knew the moment I first interviewed with SACS nearly 10 years ago, this is where I wanted to teach.  The staff, faculty and students are unlike any one I could find elsewhere. There is no better place I could imagine waking up to go to work each day. ”

A graduate of University of St. Francis, Stephanie has taught in the SACS district for nine years.  First as a Biology and Honors Biology teacher in the 9th Grade Academy, Merkling moved to her current position as the AP and Environmental Science Teacher at HHS in 2010.  With a mission to incorporate the “real world” into the classroom, Merkling believes students need to know what they are learning is not just book work.  “It’s my passion to connect learning to life by illustrating whatever students are learning about in the classroom is relevant and useful in the world outside school.” 

Merkling’s efforts and reputation often precede her.  Known as “Miss Frizzle” because her wardrobe/accessories often fit the topics covered in class, the popularity of Environmental Science at HHS has grown to include six sections next semester.  Additionally, three sections of AP Environmental Science are also available.   

“My students inspire me.  From the discussions we have about something they saw the night before, or the emails they send with links to articles or new stories that have to do with our content, they bring me such joy and inspiration knowing they are thinking about my class outside of school.”

Merkling also serves as the sponsor of HHS’ Environmental Club leading a group of ecologically minded students who take an active role in environmental improvements through community activism and volunteerism. She also leads the Tennis Club, and the Work Study program at the Environmental Center.

Dr. Park Ginder, Principal, Homestead High School says Stephanie is a dedicated educator who inspires learning. “Stephanie is a kid magnet, capable of collecting students and shepherding them toward a better understanding about life, and using science to do it.”

SACS’ Teacher of the Year award is designed to honor, promote, and celebrate excellence in the teaching profession. Candidates for Teacher of the Year are nominated by building principals with finalists chosen by a committee comprised of administrators, parents and past Teacher of the Year winners.

This year’s other buidling finalists included Michael Carpenter, Grade 5, Aboite Elementary; Kelsie Holzhausen, Special Education, Covington Elementary; Sarah Wagner, Special Education, Deer Ridge Elementary; Jenna Chapman, Grade 4, Haverhill Elementary; Tami Cheviron, Kindergarten, Lafayette Meadows Elementary; Khara Ringen, Kindergarten, Whispering Meadows Elementary; Tia Tacket, 6th Grade Science and 7-8thGrade Communications, Summit Middle School; Lowell Summers, Grade 6, Skills for Adolescents and We the People, Woodside Middle School.

As the SACS Teacher of the Year, Merkling is nominated for the 2019 Indiana Teacher of the Year.