Welcome to our third Teacher Feature of the 2019-2020 school year. In this New Year edition, we talk to Ms. Renee Stewart, School Counselor at Grace. Ms. Stewart joined our team in the fall of 2019 and has been an incredible resource in our community already. Ms. Stewart, we are so happy to have you at Grace!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Growing up, I loved to read and be outside. I still really value the chance to be adventurous and to do new things. I especially love hiking and exercising. I like being outdoors, especially when the weather is nice. I also love creative arts like painting. DC is a great city because we have so many museums!

How long have you been teaching or working with children?

I’ve been working with children since 2005. I was a preschool teacher for four and a half years at The Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center. Then I moved to Wonders Early Learning, where I started as floater in the two year old classroom. I moved up to a co-teacher position in the threes class and then worked in the fours and fives classroom. So I’ve pretty much done it all in the Early Childhood Education realm!

After a while, I decided to go get my Masters in Social Work from Howard University School of Social Work. I started my degree in 2009 and finished in 2012. After I got my degree, I was hired at the place where I had done my internship: Community Counseling and Mentoring Services. I worked there for 7 years and served as the school based services director.

What brought you to Grace?

I was working Monday-Thursday and decided that I wanted to volunteer at a school on Fridays. I approached my sister, whose son is now a Grade 1 student at Grace, to see if there were any volunteer opportunities at the school. Imagine my delight when I found out that there was an opening for a counselor at the school!

What are your favorite things about working here?

I love working around people who are serious about their jobs and serious about helping children. Diversity is really important to me, and I want to help expand that diversity in our educational spaces. I really appreciate the diversity and inclusion initiatives at Grace, and respect how we are committed to both increasing that diversity and working with what we already have.

Any surprises so far?

Getting free pizza on Fridays is a nice bonus!

Complete this sentence: To be a great teacher, one must . . .

. . . have a natural affinity for it. You need to be curious, and want to know and understand. You always have to ask: “What else can I do to help?” Most of all, you’ve gotta love it!