ODA’s Bet on Mrs. Betz Pays Off


It’s hard to miss new teacher Stefanie Betz whether you’re admiring her bright green Michael Kors bag that lays on her hip, or stopping in your tracks at the animated teacher talking to a volleyball player about the game last night.

I know I will never forget the first time I encountered her. After two years of participating in the student panel that interviews teaching candidates, she was far and beyond one of the most memorable teachers I spent time interviewing. Once I stopped complimenting her looks in my head, I was drawn in by the explanation of her philosophy about always trying to mix it up in her lessons.

When I decided to cover a new teacher for the paper this year, I knew I would enjoy speaking with her.

“Originally I wasn’t really looking for a job,” says Mrs. Betz.

She first heard of the job opening from teacher and coach, Shelly Stone.

“I actually met her at Crossfit after she joined our gym. We worked out together a few times, and I kept hearing about her experiences at Venice High School. I started talking about the opportunities at a private school versus a public school. It was a long time convincing her, but once she got on campus she loved it.”

“Coach Stone said that ODA was looking for an AP Lang and Volleyball coach, and that combination doesn’t come up often. The interview process takes a while…it was hard to say no.”

“I enjoyed being at Venice, but ODA provides more opportunity for me professionally. Here I work with different groups of people and involvement level is different– more family oriented.”

One of Mrs. Betz’s favorite aspects about ODA is the great amount of respect amongst the students and co-workers.  Betz finds that it very enjoyable because it creates such a difference in attitude and general happiness.

“When the kids have more respect for the teachers, they come more prepared to class. The students here are really on top of their stuff. I love that kids ask so many questions, even ones I’m not able to answer. I love it because it makes me work a lot harder. I’m used to feeding and regurgitating, so this is really cool.”

“I have a lot of little favorite things,” she says, but Mrs. Betz is especially impressed by the trust throughout the community.

“It makes me laugh how people leave their their stuff everywhere,” says Mrs. Betz. As much as Mrs. Betz is adjusting to the new community and enjoying the excitement of new hello’s comes hard goodbyes.

When asked about leaving Venice, leaving her volleyball team was clearly an emotional time for her.

“That was probably toughest part:  telling them in person that I was leaving, but it’s one of those things where there is never a good time to do it  and [coming to ODA] was a good opportunity for me.  Although I admire the kids there for their determination and hard work, me being there isn’t going to change that. I’m going to miss them so much.”

At ODA, Mrs. Betz was prepared to begin running a volleyball program at a different level of competition, but she did not know what to expect from her new team.

“I was anxious to find out the attitude of the girls, but they have done everything I asked. They bought in to what we are trying to do, and they are committed. That’s been awesome. That’s what I was anxious about, but once I met and got to know them and saw that they want to work hard and work together–it’s been a good year so far and I hope it continues throughout the season.”

Anyone who has watched the volleyball team play understands that they have chemistry. The hard work the girls put in as team shows on the court. But the team has also had to make adjustments particularly to their new coach’s style.

“I think the way she approached us in the beginning of our pre season was good for us. She was harder on us than our previous coach, which was an awakening for the team. It was good though because had she been too shy we wouldn’t have progressed as much,” says senior volleyball player Savannah Jones.

As much as the volleyball team loves their new coach, many of them also get to work with her in a classroom setting.

“Having her as a coach and a teacher is really nice because I have a stronger relationship with her on and of the court,” says senior volleyball player Sam Emmons.

“Knowing I have some players in class made me more comfortable in class for the first few weeks or so. It made for a smoother transition. I like teaching and coaching the same kids because I get to see how students behave in a competitive environment and school situation,”says Betz.

Whether Mrs. Betz is your mentor in the classroom or on the court, one thing is clear: Mrs. Betz is a great addition to the Out-of-Door Academy.