Kristina (Chris) Pollard’s story honestly doesn’t know why she was chosen to be Lanett Junior High School’s Teacher of the Year.
“It’s been upvoted by our co-workers here at school, so I’m not entirely sure why, but I like to think it was because I was feeling empathy,” she said.
What the story does know is that there is nothing you would rather do than teach. She always felt like it was her calling.
Storey was a social worker before becoming a teacher. She said this, along with her education, shaped her teaching style.
“I have a Bachelor’s [degree] in Psychology and a double minor in Sociology, then I went back for my Masters in Education.”
Storey’s people-centered background has led to her prioritizing good relationships with her students.
“I honestly think kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” she said.
Story said that if a teacher had nothing to do with her students, they would resist her.
She believes that she has good relations with her students, so she rarely has to deal with behavioral problems.
Of course, getting close to her students has a price. The story misses them after they move to the next grade. But because of how her school is set up, and because the Lanett community is relatively small, she can see ex-students now and then.
“This morning, I had breakfast,” she said. “So, I’ve been able to see many of my former students. I connect with them, and we are a very tight-knit community. I see my students outside at the grocery store. I see them at church. I see them at events within the community. Fortunately, I never lose touch with them. More than that A little bit, maybe, once they go to college, but I still try to keep in touch with them.”
Storey said the students said they felt safe in the classroom. They come up with what they call Therapy Thursday, where they spend the first few minutes of class discussing what they want to talk about without threatening to judge them.
“And if they ask me for my advice, I will give it to them,” she said. “But sometimes they just want to talk.”
A story that teaches enrichment, a readiness program, for seventh and eighth graders. She said she prepares students for tests on status and life in general.
“It’s sort of a treatment program,” she said. “We meet students wherever they are, so we can help them get to where they need to be. Some of them are actually past where they need to be. So, we make sure to find something that strengthens them in their place to help them keep moving forward.”
While Story teaches multiple subjects to her students, she mainly focuses on reading and math.
She taught Story at WO Lance Elementary School for two years and was at Lanett Junior High School for eight years. She said it is an honor to prepare the next generation of leaders and professionals.
“It’s something I don’t take lightly,” she said. “And I know some of this may sound like a true cliché, but I’m really happy to help shape and build the students who will ultimately be the ones who have to look after me and make the decisions about my life.”
Story is married to Lanett High School’s head football coach and athletic director Clifford Story Jr.
“I might see him once or twice a week [at work] “Because it is mostly stationed in the central office,” she said. “So, I don’t see him often. But it’s fun to have the opportunity to be on campus together.”
Story is the head volleyball coach for Lanett Junior High School and Lanett High School. She is also the assistant coach for girls’ basketball in high school. She said she played basketball in college and high school, so she didn’t know much about volleyball. But her husband said he needed a volleyball coach, so she took on the role.
“I really fell in love with her,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. I’m learning a lot about volleyball.”
Storey and her husband have owned The Learning Treasure Preschool in Lanett for 16 years.
She has also authored a book, Married to the Game, which chronicles her life as the wife of a coach and mother of athletes. She said it describes the similarities between marriage and sports.
I asked the story jokingly about the meaning of free time.
“I don’t have much free time,” she said. “I enjoy spending time with my family, which is most of my time with them. Traveling to football games and stuff or visiting school and things like that. I enjoy reading. This is one of the things I do. And I enjoy writing.”
The story recently got into the graffiti setting on T-shirts.
“My son goes to Tuskegee, and they have a collegiate soccer team,” she said. “They have to play on Sunday. So, he called me about making some shirts.”
Story said she plans to sell the shirts to her son’s team but only to charge for the shirts and graphics without making a profit.
“Finally,” she said, “I’d like to get to a mansion where I can sell them, but I haven’t gotten there yet.”