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Monica Crabtree is 2024 Teacher of the Year

Monica Crabtree is 2024 Teacher of the Year

Crabtree teaches 5th grade science and social studies at Peculiar Elementary. She has been in this position for seven years, and has worked in the district for nine years. Before teaching 5th grade, she taught 2nd grade for two years.

She graduated from Belton High School in 2010 and attend college at Missouri Western. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri Western State University. In 2018, she received her master’s degree in administration from William Woods University.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is the district’s project-based science curriculum. Crabtree participated in the classroom teacher training in 2017, and then completed the PLTW Lead Teacher Training in 2021. Since completing that training, she has led district-wide professional learning on PLTW at back-to-school in-service training days. 

Crabtree was also nominated for the Teacher of the Year award in 2022 and 2023. 

Crabtree and her husband, Sam, have two daughters, Brie, age 3, and Jane, age 1.5. They are expecting a baby boy at the end of May.

She loves being active and spending time outdoors. She is an avid reader. She also plays piano and enjoys crafting and Bible journaling. She and her extended family enjoys playing games and scheduling game nights.

She was nominated by a student, Peyton Delt, who wrote:

“She was one of the kindest teachers I had ever met. She also had a sense of humor and made our science projects fun. She would tell amazing stories and had amazing ways to teach.”

Why Crabtree became a teacher

“The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10 'For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.' I became a teacher because I know my soul was created to do it. This is what God has called me to do with my life and what He has prepared me for beforehand.

"He has blessed me with the gift of teaching and a passion for Science and History. My greatest joy comes from finding unique ways to make learning fun, and watching students discover new knowledge. I love to learn new things myself, and love sharing that experience with my students.

“ 'Mistakes are how you learn, I hope you make a lot' is the motto of my classroom. I believe that learning, the ability to learn and ask questions, and the desire to grow and challenge yourself is the greatest gift I can pass onto the next generation. I love children, especially 5th graders and I couldn’t imagine spending my life doing anything else.

I became a teacher because I feel like children deserve teachers who are passionate about what they teach, and who they teach.”

From Peculiar Elementary School Principal Keri Collison

“Mrs. Crabtree builds relationships with her students and their families so that she can support them each year. She takes time to make personal phone calls for positive behaviors, as well as to seek support and parent input when a student in her room is struggling. Mrs. Crabtree finds innovative and engaging ways to deliver her lessons and get kids excited about Science and Social Studies topics. You will most often find students in groups working together on a project or assignment when you enter Mrs. Crabree’s classroom. 

"Building connections is a strength of Mrs. Crabtree’s. This includes not only students, but other staff members as well. She works with her 5th grade team and support staff at Peculiar to plan for and support students both academically and social-emotionally. She is also the lead 5th grade Science teacher for our district. Mrs. Crabtree brings her excitement and knowledge for her content to that team each week and facilitates their team collaboration meetings. Mrs. Crabtree is also on our building leadership team, and brings a positive attitude and outlook to those meetings as well.

"Mrs. Crabtree gets students excited about Science and Social Studies, and is an asset to our school family and 5th grade team!"

From the judges

Each finalist for Teacher of the Year had interviews with two judges: Lisa Cummings, Human Resources Consultant, and former Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources, Belton School District; and Anissa Gastin, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, Lockton Affinity; and former Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources, Fort Osage R-1 School District.

The judges were impressed with all of the finalists and noted their passion for teaching and for the students. They said the all of the finalists are great representatives of the District.

In selecting Crabtree as the winner, the judges noted that she was very well-spoken when answering their questions. When asked what teachers need in order to experience success in the classroom, Crabtree said that teachers need "to be allowed to make the magic happen." Unless it is new instruction, Crabtree favors having students work in groups. "When kids are doing the talking, they are doing the learning," she told the judges. When asked what someone might see upon entering her classroom, she described it as "structured chaos," and added that she is comfortable in that setting. The judges also noted Crabtree's interest in curriculum and continuous learning.

Pictured: Peculiar Elementary Teacher Monica Crabtree is the 2024 Teacher of the Year. At left: Technology Director and 2007 Teacher of the Year Ryan Gooding. At right: Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle.

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