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Teacher of the Year: Stefnie Crites focuses on art of storytelling to connect to her students
Julianne Foster

Stefnie Crites, a fifth grade ELA teacher and Teacher of the Year for Carrollton Upper Elementary School, poses with some of her students. From left are Rosie Reid, Preston Bagby, Bentley Hardeman, Willis Herman, & Braylen Dodson.

Crites credits third grade teacher as her inspiration

Everyone has a favorite teacher, and for Stefnie Crites, it was her third grade one, Miss Doyle. In fact, Miss Doyle's impression on her was so great Crites decided to emulate her, model her classroom style, tell exciting, vivid stories to help her students learn – just like Miss Doyle.

"It was in her room that I gained a strong foundation in many specialties, but I truly believe that her masterful weaving of the standards is where I gained my love of integration," says Crites. "I began to understand that students learn through stories, even if you have to create one! I am forever grateful to Miss Doyle for being my inspiration and helping to build the confidence I needed to battle those doubts that told me that I was too far behind and would never make it."

Never making it was her fear because Crites started out studying to be a veterinarian and becoming a teacher was the last thing on her mind. But her newfound revelation came during a stressful time – actually a panic attack – during a chemistry oral exam. 

"I somehow managed to muddle my way through it knowing the entire time this was not my path," she recalls. "My mind whirred with excuses – 'your parents will think you are crazy! You have no experience in the field! You have been planning to be a veterinarian since the third grade!' Nonetheless, Miss Doyle tiptoed into my consciousness." 

Crites, a language arts and social studies teacher at Carrollton Upper Elementary School, also learned from Miss Doyle the art of the storyteller or, the more formal term, the orator. 

"Public speaking is not a favorite of students," concedes Crites. "However, I understood that from my own insecurities in public speaking, it is important to create opportunities for understanding. No matter the path, students should leave the classroom a better orator than before. I knew that if they were encouraged to be creative and allowed to bounce ideas off each other in a safe and respectful environment, it would not only be a hit but it would also teach a skill that would serve them for years to come!"

Crites’ impact on her students – as well as other faculty members – led to her selection as Carrollton Upper Elementary School Teacher of the Year for 2022-2023 last spring. She and Teachers of the Year for other district schools – Michael Harvey, Carrollton High School; John Megathlin, Carrollton Junior High; and Tamara Wooten, Carrollton Elementary School, are now vying for the district honor to be announced next month.

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Twenty CHS students receive national recognition from College Board
Cali Jones

Twenty Carrollton High School upperclassmen have been recognized by the College Board as National Recognition Program awardees. 

Pictured bottom row from left are Emma Harris, Martha Minor, Emma Osborne, Sophia Morales, Shawn Dong, Autumn Martin, Wright Roenigk, and Tyler Ou. Top row from left are Kieran Kelly, Mark Zimmer, Tai Jackson, Edward Kenyon, Benjamin Reid, Alishan Ameer, and Porter Price. Not pictured are Katilin Cappiello, Isabelle Esslinger, Richard Hollingsworth, Kathleen Mills, and Alexia Walter.

 

Students earned this recognition because of their academic achievements in school as well as their performance on the AP exams. 

 

The following students received National Rural and Small Town Award.

 

Seniors who received the recognition are Alishan Ameer, Kaitlin Cappiello, Isabelle Esslinger, Emma Harris, Tai Jackson, Kathleen Mills, Martha Minor, Emma Osborne, Benjamin Reid, Alexia Walter, and Mark Zimmer. 

 

Juniors who received the recognition are Shawn Dong, Kieran Kelly, Edward Kenyon, Autumn Martin, Tyler Ou, Porter Price, and Wright Roenigk.

 

Additionally, senior Richard Hollingsworth received the National Indigenous Award.

 

Junior Sophia Morales received two recognitions — the National Rural and Small Town Award and the National Hispanic Recognition Award. 

 

“I am very proud of these students for their achievements in their classrooms and on the AP exams,” said CHS Principal Ian Lyle. “These programs help students from diverse backgrounds stand out to colleges during admissions.”

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Barron coaching on and off the field
Cali Jones

With her first season as head varsity softball coach at Carrollton High School under way, Cali Barron is leading her players to success both on and off the field. 

Trojan softball player Kyla Harley practices handshaking with Coach Cali Barron.

 

Barron implemented what she calls “Trojan Tuesdays” where she teaches her players a life skill after practice.

 

“We typically take about 10-15 minutes after practice every Tuesday to learn a new skill, but when we play on Tuesdays, I try to have them on Monday or Wednesday,” she said. “So far we have written thank you cards, learned how to properly shake a hand, and also learned how to write a check.”

 

Barron also noted most of the life skills she is hoping to teach the girls are skills that are often overlooked but are important.

 

“It is so easy to get caught up in sports and forget about skills that will be needed once softball is over,” she said. “I think it is important for our girls to understand skills outside of their sport and skills they will use for the rest of their lives.”

 

Preparing students for life after high school is a priority at CHS. Last spring, the school held its first “Senior Adulting Day” for graduating seniors. The event featured 16 different stations for seniors to visit to learn anything from sewing on a button to changing a tire to understanding the basics on how to take out a loan to buy a car.

 

CHS Assistant Principal and Career, Technical and Agricultural Director Elizabeth Sanders headed up the event with help from other school support staff who work closely with students on a daily basis.

 

“The senior students were very engaged during the event,” said Sanders. “During the planning phase, we really tried to alternate hands-on and listening stations so the students kept their engagement throughout the duration of the event. The volunteers did an amazing job with teaching the seniors skills they should know upon graduation. The students were very respectful and engaged in every single station.” 

 

Other stations included details about obtaining insurance, maintaining HVAC systems, correcting a tripped electrical breaker, setting a formal table (and how to practice proper dining etiquette), writing a check, understanding credit cards, dressing professionally, understanding basic construction skills, understanding professional interaction skills, filing taxes,  maintaining fitness and health, and how to find a good, affordable place to live.

 

CHS Athletic Director Paul Fitz-Simons said he is proud of Coach Barron for investing in her athletes outside of softball.

 

“Coach Barron is pouring into her players not only by being a good softball coach but by also coaching them on skills they will need in life to be successful,” he said. “I am proud of her for taking the initiative to work with these young ladies and help them grow.”

 

Senior Kyla Harley said she thinks Barron’s Trojan Tuesdays are important because it teaches her teammates and herself skills they might not know yet.

 

“A lot of people our age don’t know how to do this kind of stuff,” she said. “It’s nice to learn how to do these things now so we will be more prepared for the real world after high school.”

 

Kyla added, “The lesson on proper handshaking is my favorite so far.”

 

Barron noted that confidence is important both on the field and in life.

 

“I want my girls to know they are more than just softball players,” she said. “My hope is that they will carry these life skills with them long after playing softball and they will be able to take something from these Trojan Tuesdays.  I am very excited to continue to do these lessons and continue molding them into strong females who are confident in everything they do.”

 

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