Kristi Curran said there is something special about teaching middle schoolers.
“There’s something cool about watching them – they are figuring out who they want to be. They are a little bit of spice and sass but still a little bit sweet,” she said.
The eighth-grade math teacher at Conway Middle School is on her third year at the school, and on her nineteenth year in education overall.
At CMS, she said there are specific traditions for the Teacher of the Year, including the administration creating a video highlighting the strengths of all the nominees.
“They tell you what your peers said about you, it’s really sweet,” Curran said.
She said she didn’t get a heads up that the winner was going to be announced that day, so when Principal Regina Treadwell Pertell came over the loudspeaker and made the announcement during Curran’s algebra class, she was not prepared.
“[I thought] ‘Oh my gosh, it’s me!’ I was thinking about the others that had been nominated. Everybody brings something different and impacts kids differently. I like to think I have an impact on the kids too, and I was really honored,” Curran said.
Pertell said Curran is “one of those educators who you don’t meet every day.”
“She is an exceptional teacher of math instruction. When Kristy interviewed with our team, we knew we wanted her to be a part of our Tiger Family before she could get out of the door,” Pertell said.
Curran was born in Baltimore, Md., and went to college at Towson University for her bachelor’s degree, and obtained her masters from Goucher College, a small private college afterwards.
She taught at a private school for a while, then taught middle school for five years before giving high school math a try.
When she and her family decided to move to Conway, she interviewed for both middle and high school positions, but discovered that middle school was where she wanted to be.
“I grew up loving math and science, they were my favorite in school, so that’s what I pursued in college,” she said, but it was an internship with a mentor teacher who really impacted her life.
“[They] were phenomenal and told me this was what I was meant to do. I was so inspired … Math to me is so black and white, there are so many ways you can get to that answer,” Curran said.
For her, she said, it’s all about communication and feedback in forming relationships with her students.
“I treat them like they’re my own when they are in the room. Being a teacher has given me the best ability to communicate. It’s all in how you phrase things,” she said, saying she loves getting to know her students and the “getting to know you” activities before learning begins.
She said that thanks to the pandemic, many people have gotten a closer look into what kind of work teachers put in to their classes, and she said she’s learned some new things herself.
“I have learned far more technology just because I’m searching for things that will get them engaged and talking,” she said.
Unfortunately, she said she does have some students who have not been as engaged with distance learning.
“That is difficult, not being able to see their face. So much comes with nonverbal communication and that feedback has been huge to me,” Curran said.
Curran and her husband Bobby, a physical education teacher at River Oaks Elementary, have three children: Dylan, a junior at Clemson University, Morgan, a sixth-grader, and Owen, who is in third grade.
When she isn’t in the classroom she enjoys cooking, reading, and travel.
“When you visit Mrs. Curran’s classroom, you do not want to leave. She pulls you into learning. Her students are always engaged and fully involved in the activity,” Pertell said. “She teaches her students how to navigate real-world knowledge. Her students adore her and request to be in her class. She is a difference-maker who students will always remember.”
Is there a teacher in Horry County that you think deserves recognition for all that they do? Use the link to nominate them in our Teacher of the Month campaign, sponsored by Sparks Toyota! https://bit.ly/3ozNJSl