Pamela Stepko ‘16 a graduate of Longwood’s Master of Science Degree in Education with a concentration in Educational Leadership garnered national recognition as Virginia’s Milken Educator of the year in 2022 for her ability to build “academic skill and the confidence in her students to become productive young citizens.”Headshot of Pamela Stepko 

“Real-world connections make learning experiences more meaningful,” Stepko said.

A 15-year veteran in education and a math interventionist at Cumberland County Elementary, Stepko builds relationships with her students that empower them to become leaders of their own learning — a technique he adopted from professors in Longwood’s Educational Leadership program. 

Stepko completed her bachelor’s degree at Longwood in 2007, then returned to campus for graduate school, ready to partner with peers, professors and educators to analyze what it means to lead in the field of education. 

“Collaborating with adults is a natural part of being a teacher,” Stepko said. “However, Longwood’s program provided professional learning on how to lead and support other adults through coaching, feedback and support.”

While earning her master’s, Stepko taught full time and completed embedded internships, gaining intensive leadership training throughout the K-12 system.

“There are many working parts of a school system,” Stepko said. “As a teacher, it’s typical to see parts in isolation. The graduate program, paired with authentic learning experiences, showed me how the parts are interconnected.”

Stepko’s current position as math interventionist follows years of service as an assistant principal and a teacher in pre-K, second and third grade. 

Lessons taken from Longwood, along with learnings from a recent EdLeader21 Leadership Academy, has fueled Stepko’s innovative teaching approaches and in turn ignited transformation within Cumberland County Elementary School. 

In the elementary school, Stepko and her colleagues designed a program that encourages students to take ownership of their education through elements such as personal goal setting, student-led conferences and redesigned learning spaces, which include a “collaboration hallway.” 

“We wanted to develop a flexible space where communication and collaboration could be fostered, a place where students provide peer feedback, critique, revise, support, fail forward and conquer all that they are learning with confidence,” Stepko explained. “Our students love solving math problems, brainstorming, creating and supporting their peers in this innovative space.”

“From accessibility to professors, flexible scheduling options, authentic learning experiences and networking opportunities, Longwood provided a clear path for me to reach my professional goals. Go Lancers!”