Name: Crystal DeLong
School: Liberty High School
Years as an Educator: 19
Currently Teaches: 9th grade World History II, Practical Law, 12th grade AP Government
* 2016 Region 5 Teacher of the Year
* 2016 Bedford County Teacher of the Year
* 2016 Liberty High School Teacher of the Year
* 2002 Staunton River Middle School Teacher of the Year
* University of Bath-United Kingdom, Master of Arts in Education-International Education
* Roanoke College, Bachelor of Arts-History
* Virginia Tech, Master of Arts-Political Science (present)
Why did you become a teacher?
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a teacher; I believe that everyone has a calling and I know without a doubt that I have been called to teach. Nothing feels more natural than stepping into a classroom and interacting with students. My passion for history runs deep, and I am privileged to be able to share that every day with my students.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As a teacher, the greatest thing I can do is to inspire my students to become life-long learners. The "Aha!" moments when a student finally grasps a concept are the moments and accomplishments that make teaching fulfilling. That is why I continue to come back every day and year after year. Even when challenges seem insurmountable, nothing is more rewarding than making a difference in a student's life.
What are your biggest challenges?
Some days the biggest challenges I face in the classroom are helping a student to grasp a concept or to take ownership of their learning. Through differentiation and personalized learning I hope to be victorious in those situations. Paperwork and grading can feel overwhelming at times, but overall, the rewards of teaching greatly outweigh the challenges we face as teachers.
Looking back at your career, what would you say is your greatest personal accomplishment?
One of the most rewarding things I have been a part of in the past 10 years is Model United Nations (MUN). It was incredible to watch students' worldviews expand as they became more exposed to other cultures and countries. Several of my MUNers have shared how MUN gave them confidence in speaking and debate, as well as expanding their worldview.
Describe a favorite memory with your students.
A good teacher invests in her students and school both inside and outside the classroom. The service aspect of National Honor Society was one of the main reasons I agreed to be the advisor. Serving alongside my students at the Big Island Fall Festival, Roanoke Rescue Mission or with Habitat for Humanity has provided lots of great memories.
If you could pass along one thing to others about the education field, what would it be?
I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach your children. Thank you to all those who support public education. We need your support as parents and stakeholders to be successful in the classroom. Thank you for entrusting your children to us.
From Her Nomination:
"[Crystal Delong] is a selfless individual that comes to work every day to make a difference in every student's life. She has natural leadership ability and articulates the needs of the school to ensure that Liberty High School is the best that [it]can be. As the leader of Liberty High School, it is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated teacher and she deserves to be recognized for her outstanding commitment to Liberty High School, Bedford County Public Schools, and the field of Education!"
-Kathy Dills, Principal of Liberty High School
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