Kristy White has known since she was a little girl that she would one day become a teacher.
“It was really never a question,” she said.
White had always loved working with children, and she remembers her favorite job in high school was as a babysitter for neighbors and family friends.
So when she graduated and headed off to college at Auburn University, she knew right away that she would study early childhood education before she eventually got her master’s at Oglethorpe University.
Then, after eight years of teaching kindergarten, first and second grades outside of the county, she took time away from teaching to start her family.
School: Sharon Elementary
Years teaching: 16
But she decided that, as her kids each eventually went into preschool, she would try her best to follow them along on their journey through school in the county until they were older.
She started teaching preschool classes as her oldest started preschool, and then when her youngest moved on to Sharon Elementary School for kindergarten, she went with her.
“When I interviewed here, [then Principal] Amy Bartlett said, ‘Are you applying at any other schools?’ and I said, ‘Nope!’” White said. “I only want to teach at Sharon. This is where my kids are. This is where I want to be.”
Now, as a parent and kindergarten teacher at the school, White sees Sharon Elementary in an all-new light, dedicating her time and passion to making sure she is creating a great school environment for both her colleagues and students.
This passion is just one of many reasons why the community voted White as the Forsyth County News’ Teacher of the Month for December.
The FCN spoke with White further about how her daughter likes seeing her at school each day, what she loves about teaching kindergarten and her family’s love for travel.
What’s it like teaching at Sharon and your daughter being there now as a student?
“It’s been great, and she’s pretty easy-going so that’s been easy. Sharon is a wonderful place. The transition was just easy because I knew some people as a parent here, so I had those relationships. And then the kindergarten team here is absolutely amazing, so it just made it easy to fit right it.
Everybody on the kindergarten grade level all works together, we plan together, we help each other out. So it made for a very easy transition from a stay-at-home mom to a preschool teacher and then back to the classroom like I was used to before.”
Does it make it easier to be able to have your kids at school with you?
“Absolutely. I do live in the community where I teach and where my kids go to school, and it is fun to see your kids and former students out and about and around you. Because I run into them at the grocery store and restaurants, and that’s a lot of fun.”
How have you liked teaching kindergarten compared to first or second grade?
“Kindergarten was always that grade that, when I was growing up and I knew I was going to be a teacher, I wanted kindergarten. And it was the first grade that I taught out of college, which I was so excited about.
Actually, at my very first school, I looped one year, so I was in kindergarten and then was asked if I would go up to first grade with the same kids that I had in kindergarten. That was an awesome experience just because you get to hit the ground running that first-grade year because you already know your students. You know who they are and what they’re capable of, so you can just kind of keep going.
Then when I moved to a different school, they had a second-grade opening, so I took that position in hopes of moving back to kindergarten or first at some point. But then I ended up staying home with my kids.”
What do you like about teaching kindergarten?
“I love seeing how much they learn and grow in kindergarten. They come in at so many different levels, but you see a tremendous amount of growth in reading and writing in the kindergarten years. And it’s really fun to see those lightbulbs go off and see them understand the letters and sounds and put those together and start reading.
I just feel like it’s such a gift to be able to see them grow that way.
When I was younger, I had a hard time with reading comprehension, so I think it kind of makes me better at teaching it because I understand how they can struggle and can help them that way.
And I love that, at this age, you’re not so focused on academics. You’re working with them on the social and emotional aspect and helping them become good friends, how we can talk to each other and work our problems out by using words, and all those things because it’s their first experience.”
What do you like to do outside of the classroom? Any hobbies you really enjoy?
“I love going for walks, hiking, spending time with my family and traveling.”
What are some places you’ve traveled that you enjoyed?
“This summer, my family went to Hawaii, so that was really fun. My son is a senior, so we’ve been doing a few college visits. And then my husband is from Colorado, so we get out to Colorado and go skiing every now and then.”