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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Verona educator is May Teacher of the Month

Friday, May 28, 2010

Crista Witt has been named Teacher of the Month for May. Witt, a sixth grade teacher at Verona Elementary School, was presented with a recognition plaque and $250 check from EFCO, a Pella corporation. Alan Cook, EFCO's human resources manager, and Becky Stephens, EFCO training specialist, were on hand for the presentation as was Lisa Schlichtman, editor of the The Monett Times. Witt is pictured above surrounded by her students. Also pictured are Cook, Stephens and Dennis Graves, a Verona sixth grade math and science teacher who nominated Witt for the award.
What started out as an exercise in career exploration turned into a passion for Verona sixth grade teacher Crista Witt, who was honored as May's Teacher of the Month by EFCO, a Pella corporation, and The Monett Times.

"I had changed my major several times as many college students do," explained Witt. "I thought I'd try education, and if I didn't like it, I'd do something else. I got into it and now I can't imagine doing anything else."

After graduating from Missouri Southern State University with a bachelor of science degree in education, Witt taught second grade at Sarcoxie for four years before joining the Verona faculty nine years ago.

At Verona, Witt teaches sixth grade communication arts and history, two subjects she loves.

Witt, who also earned a masters degree in education from Pittsburg State University with an emphasis in history, enjoys the daily challenge of teaching a room full of students.

"Nothing is ever the same," said Witt. "Every day there's a chance to do something different with the kids and for the kids.

"You always know there's points where you definitely make a difference," added Witt. "You can see you're making progress."

Teaching sixth grade is "fantastic," according to Witt. She enjoys that age group because it's a time of transition for her students, and she has the opportunity to be a solid force in their lives.

"During the pre-teen era, there are so many changes they're going through," said Witt. "I like to be the one stable, constant thing for them."

Witt says respect is also key in developing a strong student-teacher relationship.

"As long as they have a respect for you, which takes time to earn, and they know you respect them, there's a very good relationship that can be formed between the teacher and the student."

Witt, who is a native of Pierce City, also enjoys teaching in a district the size of Verona.

"There is a closeness among these students that you won't find in larger schools," said Witt. "Basically everyone is on the same page, and the staff is fantastic. We're all very good about stepping in and helping each other out. We all have a feeling of ownership with the students. We feel invested."

In addition to teaching, Witt is passionate about history and is involved with the Teaching American History federal grant program through the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence based in Webb City.

"I do book studies and seminars with other teachers from all across southwest Missouri," said Witt. "We meet a couple of times a month and go on summer field trips. We do indepth studies and then write curriculum and lesson plans that any teacher can access."

Through the grant program, Witt has travelled to New York City, Williamsburg, Va., Boston and Salem, Mass.

When Witt is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her large family that includes 10-year-old son, Witt. She is also involved in St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic Church in Pulaskifield and loves to travel.

"I'm fortunate I have a job I can look forward to doing," said Witt. "Teaching is never the same and that's what makes it fantastic."

Witt was presented with her Teacher of the Month plaque and $250 check during class on Monday. Becky Stephens, EFCO training specialist, and Alan Cook, EFCO's human resources manager, were present to honor Witt for her achievement. The money EFCO provides to the Teacher of the Month is used for classroom supplies.

The Teacher of the Month program, sponsored by EFCO and The Monett Times, was created to recognize outstanding local teachers and reward them. Any public or private school teacher in Monett, Purdy, Verona, Pierce City or Freistatt is eligible for the award. Nominations can be made by students, students' parents or fellow educators.

The recognition program will resume in August when students head back to school. For more information about the Teacher of the Month program, e-mail editor@monett-times.com or call The Monett Times office at 235-3135.

Witt's nomination letter is published on page 13 of today's newspaper.

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