Hillcrest Teacher of the Year playing a part in student’s education

Published 9:03 am Saturday, December 9, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is doing a Q&A with all of the teachers of the year in the Troup County School System. Today we are writing about Audrey McCray, a kindergarten teacher at Hillcrest Elementary. We asked her 20 questions, and we’ve shortened this interview to some of our favorite responses.

 

McCray has worked in education for 28 years, all at Hillcrest Elementary School.

Beyond teaching, she also serves as the school’s cheer coach and is the greeter at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

McCray has two children — Taylor and Jordan. Her daughter, Taylor, serves as a first-grade teacher at Ethel Kight Elementary School. Jordan is an assistant manager at Starbucks and is finishing his last year of college at Columbus State University.

 

Q: What or who inspired you to become an educator?

A: “When I was in elementary school, I had a teacher named Mrs. Judy
Baker. She always generated engagement and enthusiasm in the
classroom. She exemplified an infectious passion for learning. She
had painted an old bathtub which was a reading center. I couldn’t
wait to finish my work so I could jump in and read. I remember an
activity in which she put us into groups. We had to make a puppet
out of papier-mache, make the clothes, write a play and perform it.
She was such a creative teacher, and I loved being in her class.”

 

Q: If you weren’t a teacher, what career field would you be in? What hidden talent do you have that might surprise your students and our readers?

A: If I weren’t a teacher, the career field I would have chosen would
be an Interior Designer. A hidden talent that I have is that I like to decorate/remodel.  My
dream job would be to have my own show on HGTV.

 

Q: If your teaching style had a theme song, what would it be?

A: If my teaching style had a theme song, it would be. “Girl on
Fire,” by Alicia Keys. I chose this because for so many years I loved
being a teacher and have taught different grade, and subjects. But
this year, I was moved to Kindergarten and I love coming in every
morning to see them greet me with a smile and a great story. This
makes me want to give them my best every single day.”

 

Q: What’s the most creative/unique project one of your classes has worked on?
A: The most creative project I did was when I taught second grade.
We were learning about the Georgia Rivers.  First, I crowned myself as
Miss Georgia Rivers.  I came to class wearing a formal dress, sash and
crown. There was a huge map on the board with  all of the rivers. As
we located each river I did a story chain so that they would remember
the significance of each river.  As we came to the last river, the
students discovered why I became Miss Georgia Rivers. The story
captured their attention and it was a fun way to learn about the
rivers.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: The most rewarding part of teaching is knowing that I  played a
part in educating a child.  It makes my heart smile to see the
expression on a child’s face after reading their first sentence,
learning a new list of sight words or even getting a math problem
correct.


Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

A: The most challenging part for me is not about educating a child,
because all children can and will learn in their own time.  But the
challenge comes in when they come to school hungry, unkept and
emotionally drained.


Q: What did it mean to you to be named your school’s teacher of the year?
A: To be named Teacher of the Year was an honor., especially to
represent such a wonderful school with many other deserving teachers.

 

Q: On a weekend or summer day when school is out, what are your favorite activities?
A:  After my first five years of teaching, I learned that what
doesn’t get done at school will be there in the morning waiting for
me. So on the weekend I like to spend time with my family. I love to
shop,  watch and go to football games,  and on Sunday, we go to
church and have family dinners.  During the summer, I will continue
doing  swimming, aerobics and family vacations.


Q: As your students transition to the next grade in May, what is one key takeaway you hope they carry forward from their time in your class?

A: As my students move on to the next grade, key factors that I want
them to take with them is that they can do anything they put their
minds to and remember that they were loved.