INFLUENCER OF THE WEEK: Stephanie Xenias, Panther Lake Elementary

Stephanie Xenias is the front desk/attendance clerk at Panther Lake Elementary School, and she greets everyone who walks in the front door of the school.

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Stephanie Xenias is the front desk/attendance clerk at Panther Lake Elementary School. Her duties include greeting families, parents, staff members and community members who visit the school. While at the desk, she answers the phone and helps manage the front desk for any needs students or staff members might have. Xenias also is the ADDitions and Partners in Education coordinator and brings volunteers and businesses to the school to support the students. This year, she was nominated for Support Person of the Year at Panther Lake.

What brought you to your school?

I honestly feel fate brought me to Panther Lake. I knew it was going to be opening in the fall of 2022, and one special day a past coworker stopped by the previous school I was at. I asked about a possible position and then I waited for the posting. Soon thereafter I had my interview, and I felt an immediate connection with the principal and her goals for the school. I knew it was where I wanted my next step to be.

What do you love most about your school?

I absolutely love the school community and family connections that have been made in this first year. The school has been able to make such a strong foundation with its neighboring families and businesses. Panther Lake really makes sure to make all of its members feel like a family.

What is your motivation?

My daily motivation is to make an impact on every person I see. A smile and a hello can go a long way to a child — and even an adult. I want to make sure I make everyone feel welcome and they know how much they matter.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

There are so many rewarding parts to my job. The biggest reward is when I get to interact with a student. I try really hard to learn as many of the student's names as possible. I think it makes a real personal connection and makes them feel special when I use their name to have a conversation with them.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love gardening. In my spare time you can find me outside working with my plants. I find planting succulents especially a great use of my time.

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

My favorite teacher when I was in school was my high school journalism teacher (specifically yearbook). Renee Burke taught me how important it was to build and make connections. She not only believed in each one of her students, but she also valued them!

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

At an early age I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I had the pleasure of being a teacher for 11 years. I have now moved on to working in the front office of a school. Being in a school environment I think will always be with me. It’s in my soul!

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

My favorite children’s book is, “Where the Wild Things Are.” It is a book filled with love and imagination. It shows how children can dream of a world where anything is possible.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies are gardening and organizing. I love helping friends and family with the outside gardening needs, as well as their inside house organization.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I would love to have the ability to teleport as a superpower. If I could just think of a place, blink and instantly be there I think that would be a great power to have.

If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

If I was limited to only listening to a few artists for the rest of my life I would say Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift. This would cover my childhood, young adult and adult years. I would be very happy to have them on repeat.

What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?

I can’t say I was the healthiest eater as an elementary student. I always had a sandwich and a juice box. I definitely enjoyed Fruit Roll-Ups, Koala Yummies and Doritos.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday is either Thanksgiving or Christmas. I love when all the families can come together and we can enjoy a meal together. Recently, I’ve been tackling the holiday meals and I’ve really been enjoying cooking.

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

I would say I had two best friends growing up. My best friend Amanda and I grew up together starting at birth; she moved away to North Carolina while in middle school, but we have never lost touch. My middle/high school best friend was Kathy Mae; she also moved away to Virginia, but we are still actively involved in each other's lives. I feel blessed to have made such great friends.

What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

As a student in high school, I was involved in my school’s yearbook club. Starting in middle school and through college I was part of the honors program.

How long have you been at your school and with OCPS?

My current school just opened this school year, but overall, I’ve been with OCPS for 10 years in the education field. I’m also a proud OCPS graduate: Go, Boone Braves!


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