Cape Hatteras Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year, Kristina Tracy, teaches fifth grade science and math. Now in her 8th year at CHES, this year marks her 12th in the profession.
After obtaining her undergraduate degree in biology from Ursinus College (PA), she took a position in Philadelphia at the city’s municipal park. She reflects that one of the most enjoyable aspects of that job was going to inner-city schools and introducing students to nature. “The students’ excitement reminded me of the wonderful times I experienced in my early elementary grades with teachers who believed in hands-on instruction whether in the garden, studying patterns or snowflakes or observing chicks as they hatched. These memories made me decide to return to school to become a teacher.” She went on to earn a Master’s of Science in Elementary Education from Saint Joseph University.
The responsibility of a young son and providing a strong foundation in math and science for her 24 fifth graders keeps Tracy’s plate full, with little time to spare. She takes her role as a teacher seriously, and says, “Our lives and our values are shaped through education and our teachers; nearly everyone has a story of how a teacher has made an impact or otherwise influenced their lives. Education is the very basis of our society,” Tracy asserts. Still, she wonders if she could be doing more for her community. “Then I remind myself that the ultimate responsibility to my community is to be a good mother and teacher to my son and my ‘other kids,’ ensuring that they become respectable, responsible and contributing members of our community. At this time in my life, preparing him and my students to be good citizens is the best contribution I can make to my community as well as society as a whole.”
Tracy is highly regarded by students, parents, colleagues and administrators. CHES Principal Sherry Couch notes that Tracy is “consistently focused on academics. Ms. Tracy’s capacity to help students learn in fun and challenging ways helps prepare our students with 21st Century skills; her students show high growth and are over 90% proficient year after year in both math and science. Her personal characteristics such as patience, consideration, and good judgment are great assets to our school. “
Tracy loves to teach, even though the considerable rewards of teaching are admittedly balanced at times by frustration and exhaustion. “I love to share my knowledge of math and science, exposing students’ minds to ideas of the past while opening them up to a new world.”