Not just an ordinary teacher

Staffer reflects on mom’s big win

Ding. Ding. Ding. The last bell of the day rings, and the students race out of school eager to get home after a long day. As the minutes tick by, more and more students have been picked up by parents in cars or people on buses, and finally by 3:45 all the students are gone. The day of work is over for everyone, well, everyone except the teacher.

This is a lifestyle I know very well, not because I am a teacher, but because my mother is one. In fact, she is one of the best teachers in the state. My mother, Whitney Crews, is the 2015 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Whitney Crews grew up in the small town of Eastland, Texas and graduated as valedictorian of her class and went on to graduate from Baylor. After a string of fortunate events and connections to various people, she ended up teaching English at Van High School for one year and then moved to Lindale to teach sixth grade science and social studies, which is where she has been for the past 17 years.

Formerly, she had just been known as “Mrs. Crews, the sixth grade teacher,” but now she is a celebrity. People all over the state and even the country now know her name and what she does. It’s strange for me to think about that, because she’s still the same person. She hasn’t always been a celebrity, but she has always been a superhero to me.

Usually when people think of a “teacher,” they think of a person who comes to work from 8-3 during the week with summers off. However, this is far from the truth. A normal school day for her would include waking up early enough to hustle us off to school on time, then almost ending long after the students have gone for the day. See, once my mother (like most teachers) makes sure the family has dinner and that we have gotten our homework done, she is finally being able to start on her own “homework.” Stacks of papers and projects up to my knees remain on the floor of her room as she sits there for hours grading papers. Finally at 11 or 12 she’ll give up, even though the stacks are half finished, and she’ll go to bed because she has to wake up in a few hours and do it all over again.
Teaching isn’t just a job for her, it’s her life. Consequently, it has become my life too. I have grown up in the school, spending days of my weekends or summers there, helping grade papers, create presentations, and set up for events, getting to school unreasonably early and staying way past time to leave, and of course having no choice but to behave in school since my mother knows so many of the teachers.

“Anytime someone works outside the house there are sacrifices that have to be made,” my dad, Jeff Crews, said. “But when one is in education it is more than a job, it’s a calling. Those are more passionate and dedicated to their profession, so there are more sacrifices, along with the extra help needed to decorate their rooms and with their mid-week functions.”

Although some parts of this lifestyle haven’t been my favorite, there are a lot of benefits to this way of life. I get to see my mother as not only a teacher and a leader at school but in all other areas of her life. I get to be with her when we are at the grocery store and a student will run up to her and give her a hug and talk to her for a good 15 minutes, and then see a student from years past working at the checkout who will tell her, “I know I used to be a troublemaker in your class Mrs. Crews, but I graduated and got a scholarship and I cleaned up my life thanks to you.” I get to be there with her at the doctor’s office when I’m sick, and the second the doctor leaves the room she’ll say, “that person was in my class a really long time ago.” I get to see her legacy carry on through every student who passes through her classroom. I even get to see things she doesn’t, like how everyone I meet now was in her class at some point or another and they always have funny stories to tell about her. I get to see her come home from the store during the summer with some new clothes or shoes because one of her summer school students doesn’t have what they need. I get to listen to her stories about how she’s had a breakthrough with a particularly tough student and see how excited she gets about every step in the right direction. I get to see all the fruit of her labor and still get to have her come home and start her second job as my mom.

And now, she’s finally been recognized for the years and years of hard work. Of course, all I can think is that it’s about time for her to get the praise she deserves. I mean, yeah she hasn’t always made it to all my volleyball games or track meets because of her job, and yeah, there are some times when I feel like she lives at the school and we do too, but I can see it in the way her eyes light up when she starts talking about her kids. I can see how much she loves what she does and that it’s more than just a job for her; it’s a passion. Now that other people have recognized her many years of labor, my eyes can’t help but twinkle a little when people in passing say how awesome it is for Lindale to have a Texas Teacher of the Year. So I respond, “I know, Mrs. Crews is my mom.”