Alumni Spotlight: Stephen M. Stewart
Stephen M. Stewart, ’77, ’80, is a devoted educator.
"Education always has been part of my family," said Stewart, who earned his bachelor’s in elementary education and master’s in middle grades education at Georgia College. "My grandmother, mother, sister, cousin and two aunts attended Georgia College. My grandmother later taught school in Americus, Ga., my mother served as both an elementary school principal and a school librarian, and both of my aunts are retired educators."
While earning his bachelor’s degree, Stewart also received an early dose of what it’s like to work as an educator.
"I started working in the school system at age 18," he said. "When I entered Georgia College, I worked at Midway Elementary School in Milledgeville from 8 a.m. to noon before heading to my afternoon classes. By working four hours a day, I was required to pay teacher retirement. Even though I resented paying it at the time, my mother told me I wouldn’t regret it in the long run."
Mother knows best: Stewart was able to retire by age 50, and he did, partially.
"I’m semi-retired," he said. "I couldn’t really stop teaching."
At the beginning of his full-time teaching career, Stewart taught mathematics, science and language arts to gifted fifth- and sixth-grade students in Baldwin County and Adult General Education to working parents in the evenings.
However, fall semester 2010 was the first time he received the opportunity to teach Georgia College education students in the John H. Lounsbury College of Education.
"Before teaching education students, I taught Georgia College’s Regents’ Test Preparation course and, at one time, was a coordinator at the university’s testing center," he said. "I’m so honored to be in the classroom, working with students who are motivated to become education professionals."
Now taking on the role of his 1970s Georgia College professors, Stewart enjoys teaching "young folk" and also learning from them.
"It’s been so much fun to have students come into class and actually ask if they can create a PowerPoint presentation or blog our classroom discussions," said Stewart. "Already, my students are learning how to think ahead like professionals."
Stewart also has been an active Alumni Board member since 1977.
"My college adviser, Mrs. Catherine Thurston, was an active member of the board and got me involved," he said. "She told us once we turned in our caps and gowns after graduation we needed to have a dollar ready to give back to the college through the Alumni Association."
At the time, Mrs. Dorrie Neligan held the position of Alumni Director, so Thurston dubbed the call-to-action the "Dollar for Dorrie," he said.
During the 2010 Alumni Awards dinner and ceremony, the Alumni Association thanked and honored Stewart with the "Special Service Recognition" award for his commitment to 30-plus years of volunteerism at Georgia College.
"The beauty of the Alumni Association is that you meet and work with so many wonderful individuals who are successful in their own fields," said Stewart. "I never would have known them any other way."
Stewart has held every board position except president. Currently, he serves on the Scholarship and Peabody Garden committees.
"I have a personal attachment to the scholarship committee," he said. "Before my mother died, she established the Mozo-Stewart Alumni Scholarship in honor of all the family members who attended Georgia College. The scholarship is presented annually to a deserving student majoring in some form of education."
Stewart intends to participate with the Alumni Association for as long as he can. He also wants to teach awhile longer.
"I’ve just been energized by teaching at Georgia College," he said. "I’d like to teach for five more years if the university would have me. I’m really enjoying giving back to the professors who helped me during my Georgia College experience, and I hope my current students will remember their first teachers and become active with our Alumni Association once they graduate."