Teacher Appreciation Week: Great Teachers Matter, Day 3

Posted : 2 May 2016

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In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, the NC NTSP will feature several teachers in our partnership districts throughout North Carolina each day this week. Please see below for the second profile. We invite you to express your appreciation for those great teachers and school leaders who have made a difference in your life by tweeting #GreatTeachersNC.

Thank you to all of the great educators who make such a difference every day for the students of North Carolina!


Regan Crowley, Cullowhee Valley School, Jackson County Public Schools

The first word that comes to mind when watching Regan Crowley teach is spark. Merriam –Webster defines spark as:

- a small fiery particle thrown off from a fire, alight in ashes, or produced by striking together two hard surfaces such as stone or metal.

Regan is the fiery particle and the fire from which that spark comes is her unwavering dedication to her students. Originally from Kinston, NC, Regan now teaches middle grades science at Cullowhee Valley School in Jackson County, North Carolina. A visit to her classroom shows that her students are indeed alight in the engaging lessons Regan leads. Her principal, Kathryn Kantz, says that Regan quickly developed relationships with her students that made them want to be in her classroom. Says Kantz, “Regan is able to create activities that develop students’ thinking skills and challenge them to become leaders.” 

Regan recently shared these thoughts on her first year of teaching:

When did you first know you wanted to be a teacher?

Surprisingly, I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher until my senior year of high school. I originally wanted to go to school to be an engineer. I was even enrolled in an engineering program, but it just didn’t feel right. After praying about it, I realized I was my happiest volunteering in my mother’s classroom or teaching Sunday school.

What is the best thing about teaching?

I know it is a cliché, but the best thing about teaching is feeling like I’m making a difference. I’m a huge influence on my students, and I can affect them for the rest of their lives. I can either be the reason they hate school or the reason they love learning. Just the thought that even one of my students may look back years from now and remembers me as the reason why they survived middle school can make me smile.

What are some challenges you have faced as a first year teacher?

My biggest challenges have been time management and staying organized. I’m an organized person, and I set up what I thought was the perfect organization system. However, the school day is so hectic there is never time to put things in their right places. As a result, I am left rearranging and cleaning late in the day or over break. 

What advice would you give to someone who will begin their teaching career next August?

When you’re forced to attend professional development, make the most of it. Take notes on the strategies that other teachers use, and don’t be afraid to try it in your own classroom with an open mind. Always keep an optimistic outlook when trying a new strategy, and adapt it to your style. If it doesn’t work, no big deal; just try something else. If it does work, you’re a better teacher. In addition, accept that what works for one class may not work for another. So don’t be afraid to change your lesson, even if it is in the middle of the school day.

You seem to always be prepared with engaging lessons for your students.  What is your secret?

In college I had an amazing professor who told me to put a note on my desk that said, “If I was a student in my classroom today, would I want to come back tomorrow?” Because of this, I try to provide a positive and family-like environment every day for my students. Even if it just boring notes, I try to give the students some sort of movement and engage them in a discussion. For example, I tried teaching my sixth grade class how to shorthand their notes. We had a short discussion connecting paraphrasing and summarizing with tweeting. They had to condense their notes into tweets and summarize with a hashtag by writing it on a sticky note and sticking it to the board. Accordingly, when you treat your class like individual people instead of students, it is easy to create engaging lessons.