Pamela Stepko, the math interventionist at Virginia’s Cumberland Elementary School, helps students build confidence in the classroom and beyond. Determined to reach every child, Stepko motivates and encourages students by setting clear expectations for their success. She writes problems on the windows so students can see both the math and the world beyond and sets math content to music to increase retention. Stepko leans on data to determine next steps and develop targeted instruction for each child, determined that every student who walks through her door will learn math, realize their importance and find their voice. Cumberland Elementary School had just entered Focus School status when Stepko arrived, but due in part to her contributions, the school’s scores on state math assessments rose 20 percentage points.
Stepko has taught pre-K, second and third grade, and served as an assistant principal at Cumberland Elementary before stepping into her current role, which she sought out after expanding her family. As an administrator, she has had a significant positive impact on the school community. At the onset of the pandemic, to ensure access to learning materials for students who lacked reliable internet service at home, Stepko created a system using QR codes so families could use cell phones to access videos and handouts. She led the school through the creation of rubrics to guide teachers on the integration of Virginia’s “five C’s”—critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration and citizenship—into the curriculum, sharing the school’s “profile of a graduate” at the 2021 Virginia ASCD conference. Stepko has served as site testing coordinator and on the school’s teacher cabinet, school leadership team and instructional strategies team. She has presented to the Virginia Department of Education on project-based assessments and led the design of Cumberland Elementary’s “Collaboration Hallway,” which brings student learning outside the classroom and has been recognized by leaders in education across the country. Stepko also serves as Cumberland Elementary’s Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS) coach and leads its team of educators through academic, behavior and equity work in this role.
When Cumberland Elementary adopted WagiLabs, a social entrepreneurship program in which students develop innovative ideas to address community needs, Stepko was among a small group of teachers selected to help implement it. The program is one of many school initiatives featured on Stepko’s YouTube and Twitter channels, where she showcases student successes. Though Cumberland Elementary is a small school in a high-need rural community, Stepko and her colleagues often remind students and each other that “we will not be defined by our zip code.”
Stepko earned a Bachelor of Science in NK-6 liberal studies in 2007 and a Master of Education in administration and supervision in 2016 from Longwood University.
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2016 M.S., Administration and Supervision PK-12, Longwood University
2007 B.S., Liberal Studies, Longwood University