By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Christina Manley was recently selected as a state-level finalist for this year’s Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
She was one of only two math finalists from Tennessee along with two science finalists and will be considered for the national-level honor.
Manley, an East Tennessee native, who moved to Murfreesboro to attend Middle Tennessee State University, is beginning her eighth-year teaching for Rutherford County Schools and her first at LaVergne High School.
She previously taught eighth-grade math at LaVergne Middle and will stay on track with those same students as she transitions to teaching freshmen math.
How did you learn about your nomination and what was your initial reaction? How did you feel?
I found out that I was nominated when I received an email from the foundation letting me know that someone had nominated me. I have no idea (who). I felt really surprised and intrigued and excited that someone thought of me for this award. I still don’t know today who nominated me in the first place.
What has the reaction been like from educators in your department and the administration?
This is my first year at LaVergne High School, so I just made the change. I’ve been at LaVergne Middle School previous to this, so I’m still getting to know people here. But the administration, when I found out that I was a state finalist, they tweeted it out and congratulated me. I don’t know that a lot of people know about the award, at this point, but, at my previous school, everyone was really excited when I was nominated and supportive.
That is a great first impression.
It is a great first impression. I received Teacher of the Year at LaVergne Middle School last year and around the same time that I received Teacher of the Year, I got the email that I was nominated for the presidential award as well. Everyone at my previous school all really cheered me on as I was going through the application process because it was a very long and arduous application process. It took weeks to complete.
What drew you to a career in education?
My original degree is in journalism. Growing up I wanted to be a big investigative reporter and by the time I graduated college in 2004 … it (was) not a big career anymore. Most things are online now. So I kind of just worked for a couple of years and was kind of lost, in deciding what I wanted to go back and do? And I kept thinking about when I was at school, people would tell me I should be teacher. I thought about it and I researched it and then I thought, ‘If I’m going to be a teacher, what would I teach?’ The first thought that popped into my mind was, I should be math teacher because I was always good at math. I decided to go back to school and get my teachers license to be that great math teacher for my students.
So often we hear people say they feel so honored by a nomination of type or another, but, seriously, what would it mean for you to win?
Oh, tough question. We don’t go into teaching for the awards. You don’t even think about there being awards for teaching besides Teacher of the Year. I honestly didn’t even know this award existed until I received the email saying someone had nominated me. But it would be a nice reminder to me that somebody out there sees that I am making that difference that I wanted to make in the minds and hearts of my students.