2015 Florida Teacher of the Year
Christie believes that a teacher is a fiber in the overall fabric of a school - a virtual golden thread that connects a student to their community, school, fellow students and the learning opportunities surrounding them. Christie elaborates, "A teacher that is interlaced and intricately woven will never fray, building upon these fibers to create a solid garment that can warm an entire school and even a community." Christie believes that teachers should be woven and connected to build the overall fabric of a school community. The fabric is flexible and it is this flexibility that creates an educational organization able to respond to the wide variety of needs of all its students.
In 2007, Christie was hired as a first year teacher with the opportunity to help open a new school and given the flexibility to create a unique curriculum for her art classroom. She sought to design curriculum that would connect her art lessons to the skills students were learning in their other subjects.
Christie uses cross-curricular integration to help her students grasp a deeper understanding of the artistic process while reinforcing other academic subjects and critical thinking skills. She has developed a curriculum where she teaches art through reading, writing, math, history, social studies, geography and agriculture. "I am educating the artist inside every child, as well as educating the entire child," Christie explains. Implementing this idea has brought measurable success to her students in both art education and their academic subject areas.
A graduate of Florida Southern in Arts Education, Christie has spent time studying art and art history in America and abroad. Many of her favorite artworks were created close to home by Florida artists, which is why she enjoys teaching her students about Florida's artistic legacy. She feels that art can connect students their community, further developing their sense of home and belonging. Students perform better and flourish socially when they feel this sense of connection. It is invigorating for Christie and she is further inspired when her students' artistic enthusiasm is sparked by local history and local artists.
Christie further enjoys using her artistic and educational knowledge outside of the classroom through community projects that encourage literacy, public service, education, and artistic skills. While teaching is her profession, making connections, mentoring students and helping her hometown is her passion. She feels the best way to teach her students to become great citizens is by demonstrating her love of the community through service.