Stacie Gladden Banks has worked in Arizona public education for 15 years with a decade of that time spent as a classroom teacher. She was driven by a desire to see all students succeed, and her favorite days in the classroom were always the ones where some complex idea suddenly crystallized for students and their minds were forever changed. That small, quiet moment when a student simply said "Oh, now I get it" was rewarding beyond description.
Stacie attended elementary and secondary schools in Buckeye, Arizona back when Buckeye was a small farming community. She was raised in an agricultural family in the west valley. After graduating high school, she moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona where she received a bachelor’s degree in political science. After college, Stacie worked with her father raising cattle in the far west valley. When her dad passed away, she lost her ambition to raise cattle, and she found herself at a crossroad. One day, a friend asked her to do a presentation on politics for high school students, and she realized that she loved teaching. She went back to school at Arizona State University to enroll in their post baccalaureate program for teacher certification.
As a teacher, Stacie taught economics, government, U.S. history, world history, and English. She was asked early in her career to develop common assessments for some of those classes. While the reasons for those assessments were solid, over time she witnessed what can happen when assessments are mishandled and information is used inappropriately. This led her to pursue a master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on measurement and evaluation. She used that knowledge to radically change the way she measured student success.
During her tenure as a teacher, Stacie worked with a wide variety of students. She started a class called Hands-on-History specifically designed for students who were at-risk of dropping out of high school. At the same time, she was teaching Advanced Placement classes for the most academically successful students. Each year she had special education students, English language learners, and students who were gifted. She spent many years advising her seniors on post-secondary decisions including whether to join the military, attend university/community college, or trade schools. She also developed curriculum designed to help students weigh the costs of college loans including the long-term financial impact.
After leaving the classroom with the hope of making a broader impact, Stacie spent some time working with the Maricopa County Education Services Agency (MCESA) in the assessment department. She trained teachers on the use of data to make curricular decisions, and she also worked with subject matter experts to develop assessments. Currently, she consults with schools and programs on curriculum, assessments, and teacher training. Her hope is that she can lift some of the burden off schools so that they can focus on the joy and excitement of learning.
With her background and experience, Stacie has an insider’s knowledge of the real issues in public education. She knows the difference between standards and curriculum, and what it is really like in an overcrowded classroom. She knows when and where assessments should, and should not, be used. She knows that the end goal of education is not a score on some test. And, perhaps most importantly, she knows that providing a world class education to all the students in Arizona requires that we stop pointing fingers at each other and start working together as problem solvers.