“One thing I would like to offer is to fully serve children we have to empower them. It is the same as the old proverb, you can give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.”
Cretton is the Global Perspectives teacher at Bradley Central High School.
She challenges students to step outside of their comfort zones.
“I am a teacher by creating an environment where students can find their inner voice and discover why they think what they think,” Cretton said. “Why they believe what they believe, versus being told what they think and being told what they believe.”
Technology has made it possible to find information on any given topic.
According to Cretton, it is the role of educators to help students discern truth or fact from opinion or fiction.
She said it’s also the role of teachers to inspire thinkers who question the world around them; challenge students to pursue what is ethical; and spur on activists who desire to bring change.
“We are not just here to be here in the world, but to engage in it,” Cretton said. “In school, especially in public schools, it is very easy for students to just be in school because they have to be. Or even as adults, to just go through the routine of things, because that is what we have to do.”
She said everyone is created to engage in the world, “And although we did not make this world, we can create and recreate our own culture through our experiences and what we’ve learned.”
Cretton’s classroom evaluates global issues such as poverty or population growth, which are both big topics.
She said students break down the topics by looking at them through several lens. Students first study the issue on a personal level based on how it relates to their own lives and families. They then look at the subject in relation to their city, state and country before looking through a global lens.
Cretton said to inspire thinkers is to help students identify and shed the chains holding their society.
“Students don’t forget, because they are choosing to learn. This is what I’ve noticed, young people are hungry in all cultures and countries,” Cretton said. “... People are people and kids are kids and students are passionate and hungry for something larger than themselves, but they won’t find it on their own.”
Cretton said, “They will turn to what is easy and what is easy are the messages that are typically perpetuated by our culture.
“They are hungry to think, and to be given the space and silence to question.”
Students in Cretton’s classes are encouraged to cite problems on a local and global level. They are then challenged to meet the needs.
So far her students have completed a number of community projects including:
- Raising $15,000 to build a dormitory in Africa
- Throwing a huge block party on Lay Street
- Connecting a network of churches to provide meals for those in need in the city through the Salvation Army.
- Cleaning up the Refuge’s building and neighboring homes.
- Helping out at The Caring Place.
Cretton asked the gathered Kiwanians to think about a teacher or adult who was an inspiration in their lives.
“We each have the opportunity to be that person who someone else thinks about one day. That poured into their lives,” Cretton said.
“I would like to encourage you when you pour into children that you inspire life in them and to encourage them to become the better people they were intended to be.”