Justin Stoeckel, a second-grade teacher at East Millsboro Elementary School in Delaware, which is 68 percent low-income. He began his teaching career when he joined East Millsboro Elementary six years ago.

I teach where I do because we are truly a team. There is an air of encouragement that is felt by everyone, from the staffers in the front office to the teachers in every classroom. Students (and teachers) feel comfortable asking questions or asking for help. We take a collective approach through weekly Professional Learning Communities, where we work with our grade-level colleagues to review assessment data and plan and align our curriculum accordingly. We also have “vertical alignment meetings” throughout the year to promote consistency in teaching and learning from grade to grade, and monthly peer learning walks allow us to visit and learn from our colleagues in action. These strategies help to ensure we meet all students’ and teachers’ needs. We are constantly finding, using, sharing, and reflecting on effective strategies that will meet an individual learning or behavior style. As a new teacher, I was helped and guided by not just my grade-level colleagues, but by all the faculty. My administrators encouraged me to find my teaching voice and empower me to use it every day. This encouragement is also passed on to students, as we push them to find and use their own voices too. Students share this same assurance with each other, creating a school environment that is a positive place for learning for everyone inside.

More resources from Ed Trust

In partnership with StoryCorps, we have put together a series of audio clips featuring teachers and administrators in three of our Dispelling the Myth schools. Here, a George Hall Elementary teacher echoes some of Justin’s same thoughts about collaboration. (See more interviews with teachers on our YouTube page.)







This post is a part of an ongoing series, called “Why I Teach Where I Teach,” which asks educators in high-need schools to share what has attracted (and kept) them in the challenging environments they’re in. They share important stories and experiences that should remind us all of the power of strong school leadership, a network of supportive colleagues, and the genuine opportunity to have a say in schoolwide decisions. Listen up! They’re teaching us.