LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Crystal Crawford

Position: Economics Teacher
School: Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School
School District: Richmond County School System
City, State: Augusta, GA

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Crystal Crawford was nominated by a family member, Carol Gaines.

Mrs. Crawford is a nine-year veteran teacher of economics, business, and political science at Richmond County Schools. She is an outstanding teacher-leader, district curriculum contributor, and a truly caring and dedicated mentor and role-model in the field of education within Augusta-Richmond County.  Mrs. Crawford is a servant-leader who strives to impact her student community on a daily basis.

"Throughout the years, I have witnessed the most outstanding character traits in Mrs. Crawford. She is highly knowledgeable in her field, diligent, compassionate, hard-working, motivated, innovative, and a risk taker," said Gaines. "Her care for the field of education and for her students surpasses that of many others, and her impact is definitely on the rise throughout the community."

Mrs. Crawford demands a high level of excellence from her students and herself, and she encourages students using a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic techniques.  She is a wife, mother, daughter and sister, but she goes over and beyond the call of duty to share her time and love with students. She taught for several years at Davidson Fine Arts School, where she won Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Crawford has since expanded her impact to Glenn Hills High School, where she teaches summer school, and the Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School, where she was the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year.  Mrs. Crawford was most recently the Summer School Assistant Principal of Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing (RPM), where she spearheaded new initiatives and furthered her passion for CTAE and the need for advanced workforce education for students.

Mrs. Crawford isn’t concerned with awards and titles, however.  She simply strives to see students smile and make them feel happy and inspired each day. Whether it means tutoring on Saturdays and Sundays, getting up at 4:30 am to set up a Senior Breakfast, spending her own money for supplies, making sure students have money for lunch, buying their prom dresses, or driving them home each day so they make it safely, Mrs. Crawford does it all.

"Once you are her student, you are in her heart for life. She follows you everywhere," said Gaines. "She writes recommendations, helps students practice for interviews, makes college visits, ships items needed for college projects and events, and offers advice and support anytime of day or night. She isn’t just interested teaching the standards - she ensures her students are prepared to be knowledgeable, functioning members of society."

Mrs. Crawford's greatest passions are teaching Economics, Business and Personal Finance topics and creating hands-on experiences for her students to realize the importance of economic concepts in their everyday lives. Her ultimate goal is to aid students in becoming more competent workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs. She is actively working on hosting personal financial literacy and college workshops for her students. She created her organization Project Teach to connect the community, her students, and technology. Mrs. Crawford even became an entrepreneur herself, so she could model experiences for her students.

Mrs. Crawford's dedication to her students extends far beyond the classroom.  She sends care packages to students who are in college or the military each month, and she ensures they are provided opportunities for personal and financial growth through recommendations, job application postings, and much more.

Mrs. Crawford’s enthusiasm for teaching can be seen on a daily basis.  Her students are her life, and each day she pushes them to achieve their goals and assists them in creating a plan to bring those goals to fruition.  Whether it's working 70-hour weeks, responding to a call or text message from a student at 3AM, coordinating a record-setting school event, showing up to teach when she has just been released from the hospital with pneumonia, or being a shoulder to cry on, Mrs. Crawford truly epitomizes the word "teacher."  If you look her up on social media, you would probably see the hashtag “#TeacherLife” all over her page. Her love for economics and her classroom is undeniable.

Recently, Mrs. Crawford has served as the Class of 2017 Senior Advisor and facilitated fantastic events that she plans and decorates herself, such as Tie-Dye Making, Senior Dinner and Dance, Movie Night, Senior Breakfast, Karaoke Coffee House, and much, much more. Currently, she's helping to plan her school's end-of-the-year bonfire!

"No matter how tired she gets, she keeps pushing for her students," said Gaines. "Whatever they need to succeed, she tries to facilitate that for them, and she does all of this while furthering her education and expertise."

Mrs. Crawford has earned her Specialist degree in Education and has recently applied to earn a leadership certification. She prides herself on being involved in every level of school decision making, and she does this on behalf of her students. She is the Social Studies Department Chair, and is a member of the leadership team, school council, Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Committee, Social Studies Resources Committee, and much much more.

"I could go on and on about her resume and what she has accomplished, but I’d rather let her students tell you," said Gaines. "Here are some direct quotes/submissions from students regarding how they feel about Mrs. Crawford. They are the ones who truly love her and appreciate everything she does for them."

*Note: Gaines is Mrs. Crawford's maiden name.

"I know someone that is always giving her best in the field of education. She is transforming her students, her school, and her community by going out of her way to put her students needs above her own (although she knows that she has to take care of herself so that she can continue to be there for others)...This individual is a “great” teacher who truly goes beyond the call of “duty” to reach and impact her students, and elevate the state of education in the Richmond County community….She truly gives her best each and every day.

Setting a strong educational foundation is an important component of a child’s development.  I want to take this time to nominate a phenomenal educator who goes beyond establishing a strong educational foundation at early ages; who assists students in taking responsibility of and for their educational experiences and opportunities; who goes beyond the classroom to impact and forever change the lives of her students at the even more critical high school age.

The most deserving educator I know is Mrs. Crystal Gaines and the Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School in Augusta, Georgia…[She] stands out in the hearts of her many students as that “one teacher” that they will always remember and appreciate.  If she has taught you in any capacity, you will always be one of her 'babies!' Through personal illnesses, acquiring additional college degrees and training, coming in early and staying late, and spending tons of her own money to make her classroom the most exciting place to be, Mrs. Gaines has always done what is best for her students to succeed.  She makes you want to do better for yourself and her. You don’t want to let her down. She has a personality and teaching style that revolutionizes an entire school. We believe in her. We trust her. She has a plan to bring our goals to fruition (that’s a word she taught me) and we know that if we stick to the plan, we can succeed. Even at our lowest moments, when we have disappointed everyone around us, she still finds a way to encourage us to get up and try again.  It takes a 'great' teacher to do that.

A great teacher like Mrs. Gaines communicates with you on a level that is both professional and hip.  She texts. She tweets. She Kiks. She uses Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat. She has her own unique way of teaching economics called “Duh Economics!” She has a website by the same name.  She blogs about economics and makes informational videos for teachers and students at other schools.  She is welcoming and honest. She is a confidant, but with boundaries, and you respect her for that. If she doesn’t approve of your actions or behaviors she will let you know and even your parents too.  But she does it out of genuine love and concern.

Mrs. Gaines is available 24/7. Literally. Her phone is ALWAYS on, even in the middle of the night. When we thought a friend was in trouble, she was there to step in and provide assistance.  She communicated with counselors and the student’s parents to get him the help he needed. Today, he is successfully in college pursuing his dreams of theatre education. Even after graduation, Mrs. Gaines keeps in touch with her 'babies.' She visits them. She sends them letters of encouragement.  She even buys them supplies they need if their families are not able. I have never seen a teacher take such great pride in their job as she does.

In her classroom, you know and respect her rules.  She is stern. She makes her students walk in a single-file, silent line in the hallway, even the seniors. But we did it because we respect her. She teaches her students to be democratic and challenge authority if we feel there is an injustice.  Her classroom is colorful and inviting, and she enjoys displaying our work. She works many weekends just to ensure that the classroom is ready for the next week when we walk in on Monday mornings.

 As a teacher of economics, she has many incentive programs that she uses to motivate her students. In her lessons she uses up-to-date videos, songs, and dances to get us into the topic and she values our thoughts and opinions and allows us to share them on a daily basis.  The way she teaches you the material makes you feel as though you are capable. That you are smart enough to “get it” and score well.

She goes beyond the textbook and curriculum to ensure that her students are prepared for the “real-world.” She conducts job and interview training.  She teaches us how to save money and establish accounts; what to look for when renting a house or buying car; the importance of being proactive and planning ahead. She teaches us to have confidence in ourselves and to value our worth, not sell ourselves short. She somehow sees potential in everyone.  She is the only teacher I know that can get 100 kids to come to Saturday School for tutoring and she provides snacks! She is always spending her own money on her students and her classroom.

She is always available to write teacher recommendations, and she is honest.  She tells the good and the developing. So I know she would expect me to do the same for her...Most importantly, she leads by example and teaches us to strive for excellence, not perfection (one of her classroom mottos, she has tons of those). Mrs. Gaines uses her superb content knowledge and instructional techniques to educate other teachers on best practices not only in her own school building, but throughout the county.  She is a teacher leader and serves on various teams and committees to ensure safety, discipline, and excellence in the classroom," - Jenee Williams, Former DFA Student and AU Graduate:

Mrs. Crawford maintains high professional standards at all times and is regarded as a top Economics educator. With this distinction, she has facilitated, taught and presented at many workshops and training opportunities for other teachers and has written several district-wide assessments and curriculum plans. Beyond her students’ fantastic test scores, Mrs. Crawford cares for their health, stability and futures. She spends time assisting her junior and senior students in various ways to ensure their preparedness for college and careers.  She is a proud graduate of Augusta State University and promotes college, workforce programs, and volunteerism to her students.

“I have been Ms. Gaines’ student in various government and economic classes for the last four years at John S. Davidson Magnet School in Augusta, GA. Through the years, I have developed extremely high respect for her as both a teacher and mentor.  Most recently, I have taken AP Economics with her, and even though math is not my strong suit, I find that through Ms. Gaines’ teaching, I don’t struggle with the material she expects us to learn. I can easily achieve the goals of the course because Ms. Gaines has a unique method of taking college-level economics and breaking it down in ways that are relevant to a teenager’s life. She uses interactive games, poems, raps, songs, and even modern hip-hop dances to help her students learn things such as quantity demanded v. demand, and elasticity of supply and demand.  This makes learning exciting and that makes me want to come to class every day.

Not only is Ms. Gaines the finest and most inspiring teacher and mentor I’ve ever had, she’s just in general a well-loved person by both her students and her co-workers. She has inspired so many students to achieve personal goals in their lives. Ms. Gaines makes herself available to her students not just at school, but after school; going as far as letting us call her with questions about an upcoming test, project or even real-world questions and concerns, such as home problems, college questions and financial aid help. Ms. Gaines has also hosted several job preparation workshops, providing us with resume assistance and interview practice.  I’ve never met a teacher that truly loves what she does as much as Ms. Gaines, she is one of the most dedicated and motivating people I’ve ever met in my life and I truly believe that she is a true definition of what a remarkable woman, mentor, and teacher should be.” - Lindsey Corley, former student

“Mrs. Crawford has been an excellent teacher to me and all of her other students since the first day we walked in her classroom.  She always keeps a smile on her face, and she makes learning fun for us. Her like a comfortable home to me, where I can just walk in, learn and get educated. She uses scenarios that we can relate to and understand, which helps us a lot.  Mrs. Crawford makes my classmates and I get into groups and interact with one another and discuss our assignment. I had never been comfortable with talking in front of the class or working with groups, but Mrs. Crawford helped me with that fear. Mrs. Crawford always lets us know that she's there if we ever need anything or need someone to talk to.  I love that about Mrs. Crawford. I never had a teacher like her. Mrs. Crawford is an outstanding teacher and she deserves recognition for all of her efforts in teaching. Mrs. Crawford is our leader, all we have to do is stay on board and she makes sure we won’t ever fall off.” - Nyeah Sanchell, Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School student

Comments (1)

Patrick Glover Posted over a year ago