Kristy Phelps’ initiative to motivate, empower and make her classroom a safe space is what makes her a Teacher of Distinction. 

English teacher Phelps has recently been recognized by the Champions for Learning organization. She was designated the Teacher of Distinction award. 

Champions for Learning acknowledges teachers who find inventive and unique ways to interact and motivate their students. This year there are more than 50 Teacher of Distinction awards and 5 Golden Apple awards.

“The goal is student growth,” Phelps said. “It’s pretty rewarding to watch people take pride in their own success.” 

Creating individualistic opinions and feeling empowered to stand out and be confident is a struggle for some. 

“I just keep trying to build relationships with my kids, figure out what works for them, what is getting in the way of their learning, and what will help them uncover their own intrinsic motivation,” said Phelps. “I’ve found that punitive consequences just create new impediments.”

Students of previous years agree with this idea of growing at their own speed, and this way of teaching seems to have had a lasting effect on the motivation embodied in their spirits. 

“Ms. Phelps taught us all a lot of things,” said sophomore Alexandra Uscatu. “I’ll definitely use all her methods and learning strategies in my next years.”

The positive atmosphere she creates is what makes an impression on so many.

“Ms. Phelps always had a positive vibe when entering her class,” said sophomore Cole Perkins. “I liked her class because she was an overall relaxed person and always had a smile on her face.”

Confidence is an important aspect of a scholar for Phelps. Her efforts to empower her students are weaved into her curriculum. 

“I am lucky enough to work with my students for a year, and I am simultaneously limited by the constraints of a single year,” said Phelps. “If students finish our time together confident in their abilities to struggle through a difficult task and find subsequent success, I think that is the most valuable and universal life lesson I have to offer.”