California Educator

December 2018 / January 2019

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Pio trains for aesthetics and strength and finds that pushing her limits gives her a stron- ger sense of the depth of her capabilities. "I love what I do on the stage, on the plat- form , in the g ym , and in the kitchen ," she says. "I love being strong. Testing my physical and mental limits is very important to me in many aspects of my life. ese tests make me feel powerful, make me feel alive and capable, sometimes almost superhuman. My sports allow me to challenge myself in ways that I haven't found elsewhere." Her experiences training and competing inform her teaching. "My training and dedication to my sports inf luence my classroom practice," Pio says. " Th ey h elp m e recogni ze that progress i s never linear, and it's not always predictable. Sometimes it comes faster than expected, and there are periods where progress is slower — you need more practice, more scaffolding, to perfect a movement, or understand a concept, before you can move forward. This is true of strength gain and in teaching. Both require a lot of patience." Pio, who has a master's degree in teaching, is devoted to her work as an educator and to her students, saying, "I don't know anyone who loves their job more than I do." Students and colleagues are "overwhelmingly positive" about her passions as well. "Every year during the school health fair, I present on the topic of nutrition. I bring all my trophies and med- als, and some of my powerlifting gear and bodybuilding contest gear to show the students. ey're pretty proud that their teacher is a professional athlete. "My colleagues have always been very supportive as well, including administrators. I have been told on many occasions how cool it is that girls on campus have some- one like me as a model. Strong women — women who can lift two-and-a-half times their body weight and are professional athletes — aren't exactly the norm." Pio takes her responsibilities as a role model seriously and uses her experience to show others how to tap into their worth and power. "e smallest version of you is not the best version of you," she said in a Women's Strength Coalition profile last year. "I spent so much of my life just trying to fit into that, to be ever smaller. "I spent so many years feeling too … something. Too fat. Too broad shouldered. Too muscular. I spoke too much. I laughed too loudly. I argued too passionately. It was a constant fixation that manifested in just never being good enough. "Getting away from that mentality, and learning to take up space — physically, mentally, academically, socially — has been really freeing. I'm no longer focused on being small in any aspect of my life. I'm not afraid to be seen or heard or noticed, and to demand my space." " I'm no longer focused on being small in any aspect of my life. I'm not afraid to be seen, or heard, or noticed, and to demand my space." — Stephanie Pio, Sweetwater Education Association 17 D E C E M B E R 2 018 / J A N U A R Y 2 019 Pio loves testing her physical and mental limits.

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