Teacher Appreciation Week Feature: Dana Crockett, Van Duyn

     Published on 5/9/17   Tagged under:    District News    Academics    Van Duyn Elementary School   

As a student in school, Dana Crockett did not like math.
 
“You know how there are people who are math people are people who aren’t?” she reflected. “I was one of those who didn’t get it.”
 
Imagine the irony, then, that now, years later, Ms. Crockett teaches third grade math at Van Duyn Elementary.
 
“It’s like God was playing a trick on me,” she reasoned, with a smile. “I believe a higher power brings you to where you need to be. And here I am teaching math at Van Duyn!”
 
Ms. Crockett’s childhood struggle with math may be one of the reasons Principal Eva Williams believes she is an exceptional math teacher, helping students earn top scores on math exams.
 
“Because I was not a math person, I had to work at it,” Ms. Crockett explained. “I can see where students are coming from when they’re missing it – I can see where the disconnect is happening.”
 
In her classroom, Ms. Crockett breaks students up into small groups so she can more easily recognize the ones who are struggling. She provides manipulatives like counting blocks and fraction strips to help students visualize what they’re learning. She even references the beads in students’ hair, the video games they play or a trip to the corner store with their parents as a way of bringing math to life.
 
“There is math all around us,” she insisted. “You just have to make connections and build on students’ existing knowledge to make it meaningful for them. When I see students shy away from me in class, I want them to get it. I was that little girl in the corner of the classroom, hiding from the teacher. I want to make it less stressful for them.”
 
While she admits that of course there are some students who are just never going to enjoy math, and of course there are frustrating days, she wouldn’t trade her experience at Van Duyn.
 
“Our leader, Ms. Williams, has a way of bringing people close,” she said. “It’s a good climate and culture here. We all do our part to create special moments for our students so they want to be at school. It’s a pleasant place to work and learn!”
 
For Ms. Crockett, that warm, personal climate and culture are not only critical to helping students succeed, they are also her personal priority.
 
“Kids can read you,” she said. “They know when you’re being genuine and when you care about them. They ultimately want to learn and they want you to be proud of them. That’s something we can give them: hope, encouragement. We can give them the confidence of knowing that they’re somebody.”
 
Thank you, Ms. Crockett, for all you do! #SCSDThanksTeachers