‘Teacher of the Week’ recognized for juggling in-class and remote instruction

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — With less than three weeks of class before winter break, districts across the Cape Fear are assessing the current school year, and the challenges the pandemic has posed for students, parents and educators.

Leah Creswell is a fourth-grade teacher at Winter Park Elementary School in Wilmington. She knows firsthand how difficult it was to transition to remote learning several months ago, and now back to a hybrid of remote and in-person instruction.

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We recognized her as our ‘Teacher of the Week’ after receiving a nomination which highlighted her ability to pinpoint exactly what her students need in order to master difficult concepts in class.

After months of remote learning, most of Creswell’s students are back in class but a handful join each day remotely from home.

“I expect the same thing from my students at home as if they were sitting in my classroom, so I feel like that was my expectation from the beginning and I have just followed through with that,” Creswell said. “They have the same materials as they have here, they feel they’re part of the class and they know I can call on them at any moment and they always have to be paying attention.”

Principal Paul Slovik says he always tells her students one thing at the beginning of the year.

“You may be lucky enough to have a teacher as good again as Ms. Creswell again, but you will never have a teacher better than Ms. Creswell,” he said.

A UNC Wilmington graduate, Creswell has taught 18 years and the last six at Winter Park.

Her passion for teaching started at an early age.

“I was the kid who took my books home in my book bag every single day no matter whether I had homework or not,” Creswell said. “I’d get home, I had my chalkboard at my house and I had my stuffed animals laid out and I played school probably from the age of seven on and I was meant to be a teacher.”

Creswell teaches all subjects but has a special interest in math.

“I think I wasn’t successful with math as an elementary student,” she said. “I want to create an environment where they feel successful and when they leave, I want them to think they’re a mathematician and usually when they leave my class, a high percentage say — ‘I’m a mathematician.'”

Slovik says Creswell has a unique way of connecting with her students one-on-one.

“We have to have students that are ready and almost running into the classroom ready to learn because they know their teacher is going to be fun, they know their teacher is going to be accepting of the way they are and they’re going to work through any kind of difficulties they may encounter in the school day and they know their teacher loves them,” he said.

How does it feel to be our ‘Teacher of the Week?’

“I just say thank you, it feels good to be appreciated and for people to realize how hard we really are working and its just nice to be thought of and to know we are working as hard as we are,” Creswell said.

If you know a remarkable teacher like Creswell, doing great things in the classroom, click here to send us a nomination. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card.