Getting to Know You: AMS Teacher of the Year Kristi Scott

Kristi Scott, AMS Teacher of the Year

My name is Kristi Scott and I teach our EL Newcomers and ACCESS Classes. My family moved here when I was four years old, because my dad got a job at AMS / AHS as the assistant band director. My mom also worked at AHS as the bookkeeper. I have one brother, Jonathan Killian, that lives in Chicago and is the VP of creative marketing and brand communications for NewsNation. So, I truly grew up in the school system. I was always at school with my parents when my brother and I were younger, I attended all the band camps,  got to go on many band trips, etc with my family. After high school, I went to Snead State and then on to The University of Alabama where I got my BS in early childhood / elementary education. 

What made you go into education? 

I originally went into nursing. But by the end of my sophomore year at Alabama I switched to education after I figured out I couldn’t handle the needles. 

Did you have a teacher (or teachers) who made an impact on you as a student?

I had several teachers that made an impact on my life. Some that stick out in my mind are Mrs. Fletcher in 2nd grade. Mr. Orr in 4th grade and Mrs. Towers in 5th grade were amazing teachers, too. As I got older, Mr. Goss - and even my dad - taught us many life lessons through band that carry with me today. I feel fortunate to have had many great teachers throughout my life. Mrs. Humphries was one of the hardest science teachers I had at AHS. We dissected cats in there, and it actually helped me in college because we had to dissect them there, too, and I was the only one that had done it before. Mr. Blanks and Mrs. Maltbie were also some teachers I had that were so patient with me b/c I wasn’t always the best student in class. 

Why did you want to teach at AMS?

I began my teaching career at BSLK. After 12 years of teaching there, I moved up to Evans and then eventually worked my way up to AMS. I think as my personal children got older, I wanted to be around kids that were closer to their age. Kindergarten will always have my heart and is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had. I’m glad that Mr. Kitchens took a chance on me and brought me to AMS because I think my early childhood / elementary background helped me in my current position with the EL classes. 

What three words would your peers, administrators or students use to describe you?

They would probably all say how much I love Disney. Which has nothing to do with school, but is who I am - to the core. Dedicated to student success? I hope they see how hard I work to do whatever I can to help my students succeed in and out of the classroom. Students probably describe me as strict (mean) but they figure out real quick that I have very high expectations for all of my students and hold them accountable for their work. I feel like I’m like a ‘school mom’ a lot of times and just make them do what needs to be done and help them whenever they struggle with certain assignments etc. 

What would you tell your first-year self?

Don’t stress so much. Don’t try to do everything in your first year. Your room is not going to look like a Pinterest board. Learn from your veteran teachers and ask if you don’t know something. Pick one thing to truly learn / work on to implement into your lessons and learn it well. Then the next year focus on a different skill / subject to learn and begin implementing. You cannot do it all your first year, and it’s ok. 

How do you emphasize involving families in your students’ education?

We have some amazing bilingual aides that help us stay in contact with parents. We try to send information home in both languages and always try to have our aides there with us when we need to talk to parents. 

What advice would you give to those who are interested in teaching?

Go into it for the right reasons. You hear them say, we don’t do it for the money... which is true. We do it because we love our students and want to teach. It is NOT an easy job, so please don’t think it is. Like any job, learn it the best you can, work hard and always keep students first. 

What’s your favorite part of the school day?

Newcomer class – I love all of my classes, I really do. But I truly love my newcomer classes. I get to use a lot of my early childhood / elementary knowledge during these classes. These kids are so appreciative for everything and truly want to learn. They teach me Spanish and I help them learn English. 

If you had to teach a class on a deserted island, what are the five indispensable things you would take with you?

Hmmm that’s hard.I’m a little old school and would like paper, pencils, scissors, glue, and markers. I feel that I can teach just about anything with basic supplies.  

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned thus far in your career?

Always do the right thing, even if it makes you unpopular in other’s eyes. Just like with children, it’s so easy to go along with what everyone else is saying or doing. But when you know something is wrong, stand up and do what is right. You don’t have to be ugly about it,  but stand up for yourself and for those that don’t feel like they can stand up. 

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?

I hope they remember that I cared for them and pushed them to always do their best inside and out of the classroom.