Ketia C. Stokes African-American, Special Education Teacher, Autism, Baltimore

Ketia C. Stokes (c.1980 - ?) African-American, Special Education Teacher, Autism, Baltimore

Ketia C. Stokes comes from five generations of educators. Her twin sister, who struggled from birth with the effects of a brain tumor, benefited from high-quality special education and inspired Ms. Stokes to pursue a career of serving students with disabilities. She is a founding staff member and teacher at Green Street Academy, a public middle school/high school in Baltimore, Maryland. She currently teaches in a self-contained classroom for sixth- to eighth-grade students on the autism spectrum and holds many leadership roles (e.g., teacher mentor, literacy leader and learning strategist).

At Green Street Academy, Ms. Stokes spearheaded a school-wide autism awareness program for National Autism Awareness Month. She also developed a peer buddy system in which students from general education classrooms are paired with students from her self-contained classroom. Both programs contribute to Ms. Stokes’ goals of enabling young people to learn from one another and ensuring students with disabilities are recognized in public education. In 2013, her classroom won accolades from the Program for Autistic Learners program, including classroom visits from the authors of the Styer-Fitzgerald Program for Functional Academics.

Ketia Stokes is a transformational teacher who combines professional expertise with personal dedication to inspire her special education students to achieve excellence. At the same time, her service as a teacher mentor, literacy leader and learning strategist inspires her fellow educators to follow her example of commitment to the highest standards of pedagogy, professional development and classroom effectiveness. In addition, Ms. Stokes understands the role of the school as a pillar of the community and encourages her students’ families to take an active role in understanding their children’s needs and supporting their efforts to thrive. Most importantly, she is committed to meeting the individual needs of every student, no matter how complex or challenging.

Ms. Stokes sets the bar high and believes teaching must be strategic. “It must address the holistic needs of children, nurturing not only their potential and unique abilities, but their sense of self-worth and moral standing. It has to challenge them to go beyond their comfort zones and expose them to the world beyond the four corners of their neighborhood. It has to be formulated in a trust-based relationship that shows a genuine interest in knowing who they are and where they come from. As a teacher of students with autism, I think this is essential to improving their quality of life by fostering a greater sense of independence.”

In recognition of her professionalism, dedication and expertise, as well as her professional strengths and personal integrity, Ketia Stokes was named 2013 Teacher of the Year for Baltimore City Public Schools.