‘Where my heart is’ — Kentucky math teacher a finalist for international award

Published 5:35 am Friday, April 30, 2021

When Frankfort High math teacher Melissa Crosby heard from Cambridge University Press about its dedicated-teacher awards, she was skeptical.

“When I first got the email about four weeks ago, I took it up to Arlene Crabtree, our tech person, to see if it was a hoax, if it was something I should respond to,” Crosby said.
It was no hoax.

Crosby is one of six regional winners for the Cambridge University Press Dedicated Teacher Award.

According to its website, the awards are a global competition in which people can nominate a current primary or secondary teacher for something wonderful they’ve done.

The overall winner of the Cambridge University Press Dedicated Teacher Award will be determined by a public vote.
People can vote for any of the six regional winners at dedicatedteacher.cambridge.org. Voting is now open.
About 13,000 nominations were received this year from 112 countries. Crosby is the regional winner for North and South America.

“It’s not, in my mind, it’s not deserved,” Crosby said. “When I have students who are struggling or failing, it’s just fluff.”
Crosby said knowing how to deal with students’ struggles during a pandemic year has been challenging.

“Every student is different,” she said. “There’s not one easy way to know what to do. I had a principal once tell me you have to let some things go, but I struggle doing that. I want to get them to where they’re comfortable working through the math with me.

“That’s where my heart is. I’m never going to make them all love math, but if I can get them to stop saying ‘I can’t do this,’ I feel like I’ve won a victory.”

Crosby, who graduated from George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, earned a bachelor’s degree in math education from Kentucky and a master’s degree from Georgetown College.

She spent five years teaching math at Paris High School before taking some time off to raise her children.

When she returned to teaching, she was a part-time math teacher at Franklin County before taking a position at The Frankfort Christian Academy. After six years at TFCA, she began teaching at Frankfort and is in her eighth year at FHS.

Crosby teaches all of the Algebra I classes at Frankfort, and she has one calculus class.

“My dad was an electrical engineer,” she said when asked if she’s always liked math. “Does that answer your question? My sister and I grew up doing math. She went into computers, and I went into teaching math. We didn’t fall too far from where dad was.”

Sabrina Mouser, a teacher at FHS, nominated Crosby for the award.

“I am a special education teacher, co-teaching Algebra I within the regular education classroom with Melissa Crosby,” Mouser wrote in her nomination. “I believe Melissa goes above and beyond each and every day for her students. She arrives at school before most everyone except the custodians and is normally the very last to leave.

“She dedicates her planning periods, her transition time (in between classes), and after-school hours to helping students master the content in her classes. She is fantastic with differentiated instruction and makes every student feel successful, no matter the degree.”

“Ms. Mouser did a phenomenal job with what she wrote,” Crosby said. “A good writer can turn their words in a particular direction, and I’m very grateful to her for doing that.”

Still, Crosby doesn’t think of herself as an award winner.

“I don’t see myself as being better than teachers I’m teaching with here,” she said.