For Kristi McMullin teaching is not just a career choice, but rather a calling in life. McMullin is the 2020 Teacher of the Year at Deer Creek Middle School.
Being chosen Teacher of the Year by her cohorts was to be expected for McMullin because one might say she has teaching in her blood.
(Editor’s Note: This story is one in a series of stories about educators who were chosen Teacher of the Year for their respective schools. Teachers are representing schools from both the Deer Creek and Edmond school districts.)
“As long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by great teachers,” McMullin said. “My mom was one of the best teachers I have ever had. She taught my sisters and me how to read and write before we were even in school and made learning fun for us. As a child, I remember ‘playing school’ with my sisters.
“I always wanted to be the teacher, just like my mom, so that I could make an impact on the lives of my students like she did.”
In her 12th year of teaching, McMullin has spent the past four years teaching 7th grade at Deer Creek Middle School.Before coming to DCMS, McMullin spent eight years teaching at James L. Capps Middle School in the Putnam City School District.
She received her undergraduate degree from Southern Nazarene University and now teaches 7th grade math, 7th grade Honors Pre-Algebra, Academic Enhancement, and athletics where she is Head Track and cross country coach.
McMullin says she could not see herself doing anything other than teaching because she loves what she does every single day and the difference she makes in her students’ lives.
With her mom as the person who most impacted her life as a teacher, McMullin said that early on she was taught hard work will take you places in the future.
“I give my all to everything I do, including my teaching,” McMullin said. “My students deserve my best every day.”
Her peers have chosen her to serve in leadership positions.She has been chosen as the Avenger Team Leader, 7th grade Math Department Chair, and Guiding Coalition member.
“In order to become the type of teacher that would make my mom proud, I know that I can’t give just minimum effort,” McMullin said.
Her greatest accomplishment she said would be having a past student seek her out to let her know she graduated high school because McMullin did not allow her to give up on herself when she was in middle school.
“To me, this is the most rewarding part of being an educator. The lasting reward is seeing students live a successful life and go on to have amazing careers,” McMullin said. “My goal as a teacher is to do everything in my power to influence my students to make good decisions and live successful lives.”
The summer before McMullin’s first year of teaching, her mother passed away.
“I realized she would never get to meet my students or would never be there to offer me advice,” McMullin said. “Knowing my mom is looking down on me makes me work that much harder. I want her to be proud of what I have become, and I want to one day be able to fill her shoes when it comes to impacting the lives of young people.”
McMullin said she is making a difference in the lives of her students and using her leadership to teach them life skills that would help them be productive in society.
“I teach my athletes self-respect, discipline, hard work, and dedication through sports. I am also teaching them the importance of taking care of their bodies by exercising and eating healthy food. I teach my students hard work, determination, self-confidence, and how to advocate for themselves when they are needing help,” she said. “I put a lot of effort and time into giving my students the skills they need to be successful in the future whether it be in the classroom, in athletics, or in life.”
McMullin’s philosophy of education includes, “The teacher is the one who sets the tone for that student, and has the ability to inspire, empower, motivate and prepare the student for the future.
“A great educator uses that power in a positive way to make students understand and believe there is success in the future.”
She said the job of an educator is to inspire her students to achieve great things.
“In order for that to happen, students have to feel like they belong. A student will not care what you have to say until they know you care about them as an individual,” McMullin said. “Students also have to build relationships with one another in order to have a positive learning environment.”
She added that students will not ask questions if they do not feel secure in the classroom.
“It is my role to promote an environment that ensures all students feel safe and secure,” McMullin said.
Another key factor to an outstanding teacher is to make sure students see the relevance in the skills that they are learning.
“Math is such an important subject because it is something people use on a daily basis. Until students see how it is used, it is not relevant or worthwhile,” McMullin said.“I make sure I explain to my students how the skills I teach are used in the ‘real world.’ I also explain to my students that math is not just about numbers; it is also about problem solving, learning from their mistakes, and not giving up when things get hard.”
Outstanding teachers make their material relevant.An outstanding teacher teaches more than just their content, McMullin said.
“Teachers know that it takes more than just book knowledge to ensure a student becomes a successful individual,” McMullin said. “Great teachers teach self-respect, manners, social skills, organizational skills, and many other things.”
She said she thinks one extremely important skill a great teacher develops in their students is how to advocate for themselves.
“At some point, all students will have to take that step and speak up for themselves,” McMullin said. “A great teacher guides them through this process and shows them how to communicate what they need and how they feel. These are skills that allow students to succeed in the classroom as well as out in society.”
Teaching is an extremely rewarding career, McMullin said.
“Every day I strive to be the teacher who empowers a student to reach deep inside and pull out the best version of themselves,” McMullin said.
She attends Crossings Community Church and in her spare time she likes to workout, hang out with friends, read, and do yard work.