Demetris Stevens is Destin Middle 'Teacher of The Year'
From the classroom to the ball field, Demetris "Coach D" Stevens is making a mark at Destin Middle School, so much so that he recently was named Teacher of the Year.
Stevens, 39, and a 10-year veteran at Destin Middle, was selected by his peers. And although he's excited about the accolade, he's still getting used to it.
"I don't know, it's like every time somebody says it, it's like they are talking about somebody else," Stevens said.
"It's just one of those things you don't get into teaching to win any award or make a lot of money ... it just feels really nice," he said.
Stevens ended up on the Emerald Coast after a six-year stint in the Air Force and getting stationed at Eglin.
"My wife (Latissha) really liked the area and we ended up hanging out here," Stevens said.
Stevens went on to Northwest Florida State College and was in the first graduating class in the education program.
"I was one of those first four-year degree people to graduate from there," he said.
He did his student teaching with Paula Farland at Destin Middle and soon found a home at the school where he has spent the past decade.
In his 10 years, he has taught science on almost every level. This year, he's teaching sixth-grade science, sixth-grade advanced and fifth-grade PE.
"I really like teaching earth and space science, it's fun," Stevens said.
Plus, he said he enjoyed his time teaching fifth-grade science because it is so diverse.
"I got to teach a little bit of everything," he said.
But most of all, he just likes being around the students.
"I like the interaction with the kids and getting to see how they grow over the years. And just try to be a positive influence on people's lives," he said.
And his influence hasn't gone unnoticed.
"Coach Stevens has a strong work ethic. He works hard with his students to make sure they receive the best education possible and works to build lasting relationships with them," said Destin Middle Principal Grant Meyer.
"He is a passionate teacher and role model. Mr. Stevens is always willing to help and encourage anyone at Destin Middle. Along with teaching science, he does an outstanding job coaching three different sports," Meyer said.
Stevens is currently coaching cross country, track and field and girls soccer. However, he spent three or four years coaching football as an assistant under Coach Ron Griffiths. When Griffiths moved into administration, he served as head coach.
Stevens has been quite successful with the girls soccer team at Destin Middle.
"We've done well over the last few years. We've got a good program here and we've been lucky to win the last few championships," he said, noting they have three championships under their belt.
As for track and field, Destin Middle won a few championships and one state championship in cross country right before he came to the program.
"We're normally right there in the mix of being one of the teams that can win the county championship," Stevens said.
Being a multi-sport coach, Stevens said it's difficult to pick just one.
"That's like picking one of your kids and saying which one is your favorite. The athletes always ask me which one I like coaching the best. I say they are all different. They have their strengths and things that draw you back in to wanting to coach," he said.
Stevens' favorite sport when growing up was baseball.
"I was obsessed with baseball. It was the thing I did," he said, noting he played rec ball, travel ball and high school baseball.
"I always played other sports but that was my main one," he said.
Today, he has taken coaching courses and U.S. Soccer coaching classes to hone his skills, and it's paying off.
His time in the classroom has not gone unnoticed as well, being named "Teacher of the Year."
"I really like that it's something that is voted on by your peers. So that means the other teachers thought I'd be their best representative to go forward this year as Teacher of the Year.
"So I'm going to try and make sure I live up to what they think of me every day," he said.