By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Prisavia Croft, the seventh-grade assistant principal of Cleveland Middle School, says she is living her dream of becoming an educator. An experience volunteering in a local school classroom …
Prisavia Croft, the seventh-grade assistant principal of Cleveland Middle School, says she is living her dream of becoming an educator.
An experience volunteering in a local school classroom years ago helped her find what she believed was her calling. Now nearly 27 years into her education career, she said she still loves what she does.
“This is my first year at Cleveland Middle School, and I absolutely love it,” Croft said.
For the past six years, Croft was the assistant principal at Blythe-Bower Elementary School. Before that, she had 20 years of experience in the classroom.
She began her career in the education field in 1993, when she went to work at George R. Stuart Elementary School as a kindergarten assistant. She later became a kindergarten teacher at the school and did that for eight years.
Having met her husband, Jeff Croft, while working on her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, family was also a big focus for her during this time.
After her first eight years of teaching, she took a year off to care for her two youngest children — twins. The couple now has four children: Travis, Tyler, Tiffany and Trevor.
Croft returned to George R. Stuart Elementary, where she became a third-grade teacher. She ended up continuing to teach third grade for 12 years, before moving on to Blythe-Bower.
During that time, she also completed master’s and education specialist degrees in instructional leadership from Tennessee Technological University.
“I can say that I have loved absolutely every moment of education,” Croft said. “It has been fabulous.”
She said it is hard to believe that there was a time when she was not sure she wanted to work with students.
However, she suspects a love for teaching is in her blood, and an experience volunteering in her mother’s classroom confirmed it.
Her mother, Cynthia Humes, at the time was a second-grade teacher at Hopewell Elementary School. While working in the parts department at Maytag, Croft began spending some of her free time teaching Sunday school at her church and volunteering at Hopewell.
“I just fell in love with the kids,” Croft said. “I fell in love with teaching and watching the expressions on the students’ faces as they were learning new skills. I thought this was what I needed to be doing.”
That later inspired her to enroll at Cleveland State Community College, before transferring to UTC to earn her teaching degree. The rest is history.
After years of experience in elementary education, she is now in the midst of her first year in secondary education. She said she is enjoying getting to know the older students and what their unique needs are.
The main difference, she noted, is that students in middle school are at the age when they are first beginning to think about life in high school and beyond. That means educators must help them see how their actions today will affect their futures.
“My work at Cleveland Middle School is very rewarding, and I am building relationships with my students,” Croft said. “They always say that assistant principals are the disciplinarians, but we also try to mentor the students so that they won’t keep making the same mistakes that they’ve been making.”
She said she hopes students know they can trust her enough to talk about their challenges, and she is doing what she can to make herself known.
On a given school say, Croft can be found wishing students a good morning, offering students high fives between classes and sitting and chatting with students in the cafeteria.
Croft said her career so far has been “very rewarding,” and she has gotten to watch some of her former kindergarten students grow up to become teachers. There are teachers in Cleveland City Schools who were once Croft’s students.
“I feel fortunate that I had some sort of effect on them and that they chose our profession,” she said.
Croft attends Mt. Olive Church of God and says her Christian faith is very important to her.
She said she considers herself an outgoing, friendly and compassionate person, and this has led to her volunteering for many things throughout the years.
Shementioned volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in recent years, and she recently served as emcee for the 100 Black Men of Bradley County’s annual banquet. The latter organization operates a mentoring program for students at CMS, and she helps facilitate this in her capacity as assistant principal.
She also enjoys working in the garden, doing arts and crafts, decorating, cooking and spending time in her family.
Though Croft said she is proud of all her children, she noted that she is a proud military mom.
Her son Tyler is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and is now serving in the Army. Her daughter Tiffany, who is still in high school, is also considering enlisting in the military and has been accepted to the United States Air Force Academy Summer Seminar this year.
Croft describes herself as an outgoing, friendly person who greatly values her family and faith. These things help inspire her to be the best educator she can be for her students.
“It’s pretty simple,” Croft said. “I love my family; I love the Lord; and I love people. … And whenever somebody is going through something, I want to help them become more confident and positive in their situation.”
“I just fell in love with the kids. I fell in love with teaching and watching the expressions on the students’ faces as they were learning new skills. I thought this was what I needed to be doing.” — Prisavia Croft
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