The 2015 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year says the secret to her success is that she is always learning something new.
Whitney Crews, BSEd ’96, is always learning something new. And that’s exactly what the 2015 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year expects from her students at E. J. Moss Intermediate in Lindale ISD.
“I’m constantly researching and reading books, looking for creative ways to teach, better methods, the latest technology, ways to help struggling students,” said the sixth-grade social studies and science teacher. “I don’t do anything exactly the same from year to year.”
Crews’ ability to provide her students with a sense of hope and a love for learning was cited as a main reason for her selection as Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). Crews was first chosen by her campus, district and region before competing for a state title.
With a Baylor degree in secondary education and an emphasis in English, Crews has constantly expanded her teaching repertoire. “I did all of my student teaching and my first professional year at the high school level,” she said. “And when I came to Lindale 17 years ago, they needed a sixth-grade teacher. And I thought, ‘I’m a high school person.’ But I found I really love sixth graders.”
Her principal sprung another surprise — she would be teaching social studies too. “Again, I thought, ‘Oh no, I don’t like history!’ But it turns out I do,” she said. When she had to choose between social studies and English, she stuck with social studies. Then when the school moved to block scheduling, she started teaching science — happy as usual to learn something new.
“I tell my students that story all the time, because they think they don’t like a particular subject,” she said.
But a love of learning is not enough to be an effective teacher, she said; it takes a passion to pass it on, and Crews has always felt that. “A few attempted to persuade me to pursue other opportunities, because I was ‘smart and could do anything,’” she said. “But I went to college on this path and never strayed. From deep within, I know God called me to teach.”
She said her Baylor education prepared her well. “I felt like I was ready for all aspects of education,” she said, “not just the subject matter but how you actually teach in a classroom. We had lots of opportunities to be in different classrooms, which is really how you find out if it’s what you want to do.”
Crews is excited about her year as Teacher of the Year, speaking to future teachers at various colleges, conducting workshops for educators and, of course, learning.
“My official duty is to be an ambassador for education and be a positive role model,” she said. “I am enjoying the opportunity to work with teachers all over and hear about the great things they are doing.”
There might be one downside, she admitted. “They do have a gigantic, lighted billboard in my town,” she said. “It’s the funniest thing to have your face on a billboard. That’s kind of weird.”