San Diego’s Loss is Carbon’s Gain


Carbon School District Press Release

Kristina Anderson still misses the beaches of San Diego where she grew up and attended school. She traded those sandy stretches along the ocean for a view of Steamboat Mountain and Balance Rock many years ago.

But she has no regrets.

“I love it here,” she said. “This is a great place to live.”

Anderson was recently selected as the Teacher of the Year in Carbon School District, an honor that will put her in competition with other Teachers of the Year across the state that want to be named the State Teacher of the year.

What she has done to achieve that role is obvious to others, but to her it is just what she does day in and day out in her classroom at Sally Mauro Elementary in Helper.

“Quite a surprise this has been,” she said as she sat at a table in the room where she helps young minds to grow. When asked about the possibility of being the state teacher of the year she said that would be “Very shocking, but very amazing. To even be considered for that possibility with such wonderful teachers from everywhere around the state is such an honor.”

She said that the night she got the award at the district’s retirement and awards dinner, she was “very emotional” but had gotten a lot of it out of her system before walking up to the front to receive it by talking with family and friends about what this has meant to her to be recognized for this award.

“It was the Wednesday before the banquet that they came into my class and told me I had been chosen,” she said. “We were just getting ready to start a testing session and we paused to hear what the superintendent had to say. My students were so excited! It has been a bit overwhelming, but in a good way. It’s been so nice to hear everyone’s kind compliments and words of appreciation. I am very grateful.”

In her 11th year of teaching, the division between some of those years has be filled with the birth of children and six years off to raise her kids to school age before she returned to the profession.

Anderson began college in California at a community college when she met her future husband, who was in the Marine Corps. They got married after he got out of the military and they moved back to Salt Lake City, where he was from. He then went to the police academy and eventually ended up working at the College of Eastern Utah, so they moved to Carbon County. Her husband, Trent, is now the police chief in Helper.

While in Salt Lake, she attended Salt Lake Community College for a semester, finished her degree and got her teaching certificate from CEU and the Utah State Extension program, before the school became USU Eastern.

Her teaching career began at Pinnacle Canyon Academy where she taught part time for three years. Her first year was teaching fifth and sixth graders. After the six-year hiatus from teaching, she started volunteering at Sally Mauro and found she loved the school. Seth Allred was the principal at the school then and he talked her into coming to work there. At first, she thought she was going to teach kindergarten, but then he told her he really needed her in fifth grade. And that is where she has been since, with the exception of one year in third grade.

Anderson loves teaching and it shows.

“My favorite thing about teaching is forming relationships with students,” she stated. “Working with them to be motivated and helping them to learn. It is not about just settling but to improve and grow regardless of what level they are on. Every year, each class has some students who are academically the lowest of the low and some that are the highest of the high, and as a teacher I try to meet all of their needs. I find that super challenging, but it is also motivating to me to see them grow.”

She also expressed her satisfaction with the leveled reading program the district implemented this past school year. She said that she and her co-teacher, Camille Carmack, began talking about the program as soon as they heard about it last summer. They worked on how to make it succeed in their classrooms.

“Actually, it was pretty terrifying at first,” she said. “I kept thinking about my toughest students and how they were going to sit and read for all the time we would be giving them to do so. Because of that, we did some restructuring with interventions where we worked with students one on one. That turned out to be our biggest success. But, I want to say we couldn’t do it without our aides because they worked with groups of students and they helped us to level the students’ reading properly. They helped with the testing and to determine when students were ready to move up.”

Anderson said the program produced some huge growth among many of her students with one student jumping 15 levels. He now reads on grade level.

One of the things she said that has been a highlight of her career was that she got to teach both her children in the fifth grade. It worked well for her and her kids, although she did say that probably would not be true for everyone.

As for teaching as a career, she had her mind made up a long time ago that was what she wanted to do, in fact when she was in the third grade.

“I had this awesome third grade teacher and I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up,” she explained.

That experience may have also influenced the personal touch she has with students that makes her a master teacher.

“I stand each morning at the door and greet each student as they come in,” she said. “The other thing I do is that I conference with students. We have done that more this year because of the reading program, but I have been doing it for years anyway. The students in my class and I talk one-on-one and we set goals for them. We discuss test scores, their writing and other things. We then determine what we need to do from that point forward to get better. It’s about building relationships and meeting them where they are at.”

She said it is so rewarding to help students who struggle, even if it is only in one academic area where they realize that they can do something, that they can succeed at what they attempt.

“Being able to help a student who struggles find something that they can do better is rewarding,” she said. “…but that is even true for students who do well academically. They all have room to grow.”

Yes, she misses those visits to the beach and her family that lives in Southern California and Arizona, but Helper and Sally Mauro have become home.

And many, many students are happy it has all turned out that way.

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