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8th Grade Teacher of the Year

Science teacher Crystal Soltow was named the 8th Grade Center Teacher of the Year.

Soltow decided to become a teacher during her freshmen year of college.

“When I was thinking about what career path I wanted to take, I knew I wanted to help people and I didn’t want to do the same thing every day,” Soltow said. “Teaching was a perfect fit.  Teaching science I get to help students learn how to problem solve and often how to look at the world through a different lens.  There is nothing better than seeing those moments of discovery on the faces of a student.  Teaching science also allows me the opportunity to do activities and be creative which makes each day different than the one before.  So in the end, teaching was the perfect fit for me.

Soltow believes in using as many methods as possible to deliver information to students. 

“I use a mixture of traditional methods and hands on activities in my classes,” she said. “I also watch my students closely so that I know who has a firm grasp of our current topic.  If a see a student who is having a hard time grasping a concept I will use the strong students as peer to peer teachers.”

There are a couple of things, she said, that she hopes my students take away from my class.

“I hope my students walk away learning how to problem solve.  I am constantly talking about the importance of identifying a problem and coming up with a solution.  We discuss this in the context of my class but, also how to use these skills in social situations.  Identifying problems and coming up with solutions is not just a science skill but a life skill,” Soltow said.  “Secondly, I hope my students learn that learning happens when you make a mistake.  If you get everything correct 100 percent of the time what are you learning?  Making mistakes shouldn’t be seen as failing, but as an opportunity to learn something new.”

Soltow is currently in her fifth year teaching at Union.

“I first experienced the Union Way in college when I completed field experience at the 6th/7th Grade Center in Kris Cunnane’s sixth th grade science class,” she said.  “Previous to this field experience I had planned to teach at the elementary level.  However, I enjoyed my time so much I requested to return to Union, and Ms. Cunnane’s science class, for my student teaching.  This experience also led me to switch paths and pursue teaching middle school science.  Right out of college, I worked for another district, but always knew I wanted to find my way back to Union.”

Soltow graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2001 with a degree in elementary education.

“Upon deciding I wanted to teach middle school science, I obtained my mid-level science certification as well as my elementary education certification.   I am currently attending Northeastern State University and will be graduating in May of 2017 with my Master’s in School Administration,” she said.