MARKED TREE, AR (KAIT) - Brenda Criswell, a woman who wears many hats at Marked Tree High School, was selected as our November Teacher of the Month.
Criswell is a Spanish facilitator, substitute supervisor, APEX instructor, and is described as a pillar of the Marked Tree community.
She began her career at Marked Tree High School in 1983 as a homemaker looking for work outside of the home.
After meeting with the principal, who Criswell said had an extensive list of available substitute teachers, her lucky day came the next day when she received a call from the principal requesting her help.
"I've kind of been a fixture here since around 1983," Criswell said. "I started out as a sub, and now basically I'm in a room myself, and I have my own kids every day. I know what they need to do, I keep them motivated and get them going."
Criswell helps her students with their classwork and is like a mother to her students, making herself available to help with any other issues that may pop up in their lives.
"That's why my little corner in my room looks like it does,"Criswell said. "I've got blue jeans that kids have brought me to sew up. If a backpack tears up, they bring it to me. If a shirt gets a hole in it, I sew it up."
Her outreach extends beyond school grounds, acting as a patch, binding together the local military community.
Criswell came from a military family, and her husband and children have served in the military as well.
She worked as a family readiness group leader, helping to make sure the families of service members get the assistance they need while their loved one is deployed.
Last year, Criswell's family also won a Family of the Year award from the Arkansas National Guard.
"That was really an honor," Criswell said. "With everything that we've done. It was really an honor to be recognized with them."
Whatever the task is, Criswell gives her all, treating her students like they are her own children.
"That's what I'm here for," Criswell said. "When a student realizes that there is somebody there that can push them and is concerned whether they're going to get their diploma, whether they're going to graduate, and that's willing to push them to make sure they get everything. I'm really proud of when they get going, and they finally decide what they want to do, and they stick with it. Then, 4-5 years later come back and say I finally did it and I've got it done."
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