DePaul School of Northeast Florida

We Teach The Way They Learn

No one has to convince Sierra Rowley of the power of a strong partnership between an educator and a parent. 

Rowley grew up watching her mom diligently engrossed in making sure she and her sister—who has Asperger’s Syndrome—had the opportunity to thrive in school.

A lifelong student of history, Rowley pursued a Bachelor of Arts in History and Spanish from the University of Mississippi. She was one class away from graduation when she landed her first teaching job.

“It was an opportunity to practice my Spanish, and… I love kids.” Rowley finished her degree and got her feet wet teaching high-risk, predominantly ESL students in a new charter school. The next year, she got the chance to work with children with learning differences at another school—a totally new context for her as an educator.

“Initially, I wasn’t sure about teaching, but that’s where I had a change of heart. The parents of kids with special learning needs are so engaged. It reminded me of my mom—she always made sure our grades were great. The kids reminded me of my sister, and I got to practice that patience I had from growing up with her, and loving her.”

Rowley came to DePaul in 2016 to work with 8th graders, preparing them for the transition to high school. “DePaul is a place where the administrators and educators care about the students: their wellbeing, their academics, their progress. I work in this atmosphere as an advocate, giving the kids that individualized, prescriptive education. We take the time to build that relationship and pull something out of your child that you may have never seen before.”

Rowley also goes out of her way to make her classroom a peaceful and safe place to learn. “I am a stickler for keeping things positive. I have this open door policy: I expect my 8th graders to be mature enough to come talk to me if they are having a bad day. Then we can pause for five minutes to get ourselves together. I have high expectations for students maturing from 8th graders into 9th graders. We joke and have fun, but we know when to be serious. Seeing the kids get so into the lessons—that’s really encouraging for an educator.”

Rowley is a member of the following organizations: International Dyslexia Association, National Association for Bilingual Education, Louisiana Creole Research Association (Xavier University), Continental Societies, Incorporated, and additional service organizations.