Position: History Teacher
School: Towers High School
School District: Dekalb County Public Schools
City, State: Decatur, Georgia
About the Nominee: Stephen Kane was nominated by a former student, Valencia Johnson. They have known each other for the past five years. Mr. Kane is an icon of guidance and leadership for students at Towers High School. In the time that he and Valencia have known each other, he has truly inspired her to never give up and has shown her that anything is possible. She is currently a senior in college. Although she graduated from Towers over three years ago, Mr. Kane still goes out of his way to write letters of recommendation for her for scholarship opportunities. He still keeps in touch with Valencia and is a source of inspiration and encouragement to her.
When Valencia first entered Mr. Kane’s history class, she looked forward to learning something new. He immediately stood out because his enthusiasm and love of teaching was evident from the beginning. Mr. Kane does not treat his class as a time to lecture his students, but as a time for interaction and discussion. He has the amazing ability to connect with all of his students, no matter what their level of knowledge is. He also focuses on the “big picture” rather than just facts from the textbook. As a student, Valencia was always engaged and was able to gain a greater understanding and appreciation for history. His focus was never on rote memorization, but rather to encourage his students to ask questions in order to develop their critical thinking skills. Mr. Kane has a knack for making even the most complicated ideas tangible and understandable to all of his students. He recognizes that not everyone learns the same way, and he makes an effort to accommodate everyone, whether they are a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner.
Valencia has fond memories of Mr. Kane’s class, and she still finds herself telling family and friends about the interesting things she learned there. From her experience in Mr. Kane’s class, she developed a deep appreciation for learning. His natural compassion is evident through his intense dedication to his students’ learning and achievement. Mr. Kane is more than just a teacher; he is a mentor, a motivator and a friend. These intrinsic qualities are the reasons why he is a LifeChanger in his community!