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Steve Sokohl

Berea Middle School


1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?

I currently serve as the assistant principal at Berea Middle School in Greenville County. Like most roles in education, no two days are ever identical. I make it a priority to make sure I greet all students as they come in the building with a small and hand shake. Getting into classrooms and wishing our students and teachers well is at the top of my list each morning. From there, I spend my days helping teachers plan, leading professional development, meeting with students, and communicating with parents and community members.

2.)  What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?


Work hard, love kids! (I must admit, I ‘borrowed’ this from another educator!). 

3.) Why did you become an educator?


Being a student was a challenge for me growing up. I was fortunate to have educators that took time to get to know me and cultivate strengths within myself that I did not know I had. I remember having such admiration for those individuals that I felt an obligation to pay that service forward in younger generations.

4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?


As an Emerging Leader, I look forward to learning from and working with other educators across our state. Twitter has been an outstanding platform to collaborate with educators and community members across South Carolina. I have a passion for paying forward the blessings others have bestowed upon myself to others. There is not greater blessing than to have a positive impact on the lives of others, and as an Emerging Leader, I feel it is my duty to make this a priority.   


5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?


Some of my most memorable moments within education have come from a variety of professional developments. As a classroom teacher, I was able to attend the Ron Clark Academy for a day and witness firsthand what rigorous and intentional teaching practices built on relationships does for a child’s life. 


In addition, I was also able to participate in Buck Institute for Education’s introductory course on project-based learning. It was thrugh this course that I saw the power of student voice and choice, and how it is necessary in their education. 

I also believe that reading is imperative in the life of an educator. A professor in college once told me, “if you aren’t reading, you stop learning.” Books such as Lead Like a Pirate, Dare to Lead, and Who Moved My Cheese? have all inspired my leadership and helped take me out of my comfort zone and be vulnerable with other educators.

6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.   


I still remember my last day in the classroom like it was yesterday. Just before the final bell of the year rang, I told all twenty five of my students that I had taken a job as an administrator at another school and would not be returning the following year. As I was talking, I could feel myself begin tearing up along with the children in the room. One student in particular stated, “you mean we won’t be able to come back and visit you here?” At that moment, I realized how close I had gotten not just to that group, but the entire community in which I taught. I have taken that lesson with me since as a reminder that we do not just serve the students in our building, but our teachers and the entire community.


7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?


Like many educators, I would work to cut down on much of the high stakes, standardized testing currently in place. Accountability and quality assurance are essential in measuring success, however, I have also seen the immense pressure and stress it puts on students as young as eight years old. The most memorable moments I remember with my students are the ones built on strong relationships. I would like to work to create more of those. 


8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?


I really struggle trying to answer this question. There are so many small moments that remind me why I went into education in the first place. When a student drops by my office just to talk or when a child tells you that because of my investment in them, they now love coming to school are at the top of the list. To sum all of the most rewarding experiences I am able to have, I would say that being able to watch students I have worked with grow into strong, influential young men and women is why I continue to love what I do.

Eight Questions For SCASCD Emerging Leaders

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