Cathi Cracraft, White Pine High School Mathematics teacher has been nominated as the Lions Club Teacher of the Month.
Ms. Cracraft began her tenure at White Pine High School in 2013 after previously serving as an elementary and middle school teacher. At that point, she had no experience as a high school teacher, and while she had specialized in teaching mathematics at White Pine Middle school, she had never taught courses including the content that students are exposed to in high school.
Despite this challenge, Ms. Cracraft embraced her new position at WPHS. She worked weekends and evenings on a Masters degree in mathematics instruction (which she completed in less than two years). And she willingly embraced feedback not only on the content she was now teaching, but the methods she used while doing so and the interactions she was having with students.
Ms. Cracraft has led the charge at WPHS with helping students discover how to willingly engage in learning mathematics. Her classroom, while structured and disciplined, is known as caring and nurturing yet rigorous and challenging. She facilitates students in deeply learning the content. Students don’t just learn how to solve the problem, they learn why the solution they came up with is the right one. They learn that there are many different ways to solve the problem. And they learn how to interact with each other in a scholarly manner as they work through the problem. Perhaps most importantly, students learn that it is okay to get the wrong answer the first time, the second time, or even the third time. Students build their confidence in mathematics by being allowed the freedom to have their thoughts be “wrong” because mathematicians embrace “failures” as just different ways to learn.
Ms. Cracraft has lived in Ely for just over 8 years. She is married and has two kids, a daughter who is 11 and a son who is three.
Ms. Cracraft earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education in 2005 from the University of Montana – Western and began teaching middle school math in Sidney, Montana. She moved to Ely in 2007 and taught math at the middle school for two years, then taught 4th and 5th grade at David E. Norman. Currently she is on her third year teaching math at WPHS.
She recently completed her Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education through Western Governor’s University.
Throughout her teaching career, she has been constantly trying to improve her craft. She has been involved in a Teacher Inquiry Class. She is currently taking a Teacher Academy Class through the NNRPDP to learn about the evaluation standards now required for teachers.
For the past few years, the focus in her classroom has been the language students use when they talk about math. They have been working together to develop a growth mindset, and to change the way they approach learning math. The students work hard to talk and think about math in a positive way and because of this they tend to have more success learning math.
Amanda Willis, White Pine High School Custodian, has been nominated as the Lions Club Support Staff of the Month. Ms. Willis has been working for the White Pine County School District for a number of years, and possesses all of the qualities associated with being an excellent employee.
Ms. Willis works hard, conscientiously and with very little supervision. For nearly all of her tenure at WPHS, Ms. Willis has worked the night shift. This means that she is one of the last ones in the building each night and is here working long after everybody else has departed. She has never complained about this responsibility. Instead, she quietly goes about the difficult business of keeping a sparkling and sanitary facility every day despite that facility being occupied by 400 sometimes careless and self-centered students (not to mention the adults). Ms. Willis tackles each task, no matter how unpleasant it might be, with the goal of completing it effectively. Custodial work is physically demanding, and Ms. Willis performs this work admirably.
Despite the difficulty of work, Ms. Willis always has a positive attitude. She makes time to smile and exchange hellos with students and staff. And even when she has to work late on Fridays to clean up after football and basketball games, Ms. Willis maintains her smile and positive demeanor. This is more challenging than it might seem, as every day the excellent work she performed just 24 hours earlier is repeated. Additionally, when flexibility is necessary because of a last minute student activity or another staff member who forgot to do something, Ms. Willis just smiles and says “Okay!”
Ms. Willis is dependable. Only in the rarest of circumstances does she use any type of leave. When she is asked to do something extra or to attend to an issue, she does so immediately and with the same positive attitude discussed previously.
Amanda Willis is married to Claude Willis. They have a son Juan Willis, now in his second year at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. Ms. Willis came from Colombia, South America with her son. She was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America on December 14, 2013. She has been a custodian for the WPHS since 2008. One of the biggest reasons she enjoys her position at the high school is to be able to interact with the staff and students, and she has learned many things about American culture as a result.
Ms. Willis enjoys getting to know the students and has really celebrated their growth, learning and triumphs. The staff has always been very kind and has helped her grow in many ways, learning how to help her do her job more effectively. She also appreciates the good working relationship with her fellow custodians, Bertha Ivins and Dennis McMahon.
When she left Colombia in 2001, she was Managing Clerk for a recreation and tourist center. She developed a work ethic from the ground up and has had to learn everything from the very beginning in her 11 years of working there.