Halleck Solves Higher Math Challenges

Kristy Halleck, Central Crossing High School, South-Western City School District

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For Central Crossing High School's Kristy Halleck, the equation is simple. A math devotee whose teachers inspired her to pursue a career in education, Halleck has spent virtually her entire career teaching the subject she loves in her hometown school district.

“When I graduated from college, I wanted to come back to Grove City to teach, but you don't always get so lucky,” she said. “I was lucky.

“Teaching in Grove City, it's a small way I can give back to a community that's given so much to me,” said Halleck, who was selected as the high school winner of the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News Teachers of the Year award.

The Grove City High School graduate received her bachelor's degree in secondary math education in 2002 from Miami University and a master's degree in educational leadership in 2006 from the University of Dayton. “I actually didn't start out wanting to be a teacher,” she said. “I was thinking of studying pre-med because I thought I'd want to be a veterinarian. For a while I was interested in meteorology.

“There were a lot of things I thought about, but none of them set right with me, except teaching,” she said.

Halleck, 36, has taught at Central Crossing for 14 years. Aside from some early tutoring, her entire career has been spent at the school.

She cited three educators who influenced her career path: Lori Fullen, her sophomore-year Algebra 2 teacher, who made the recommendation that Halleck be hired at Central Crossing; Jerry Nuckles, now retired, who taught Halleck in pre-calculus during her junior year and Advanced Placement Calculus her senior year; and Central Crossing Principal Jill Burke, who taught Halleck ninth-grade geometry. “All three of these teachers inspired me by the way they taught their class and related to their students,” Halleck said. “They helped lead me to becoming a teacher.”

While it was Halleck's mother, Susan Greenway, who nominated her for the award, her principal agreed Halleck deserves the accolades. “Even as a student, Kristy always had such a positive demeanor and worked really hard,” Burke said. “She's just the same as a teacher.”

Burke said she often gets to see Halleck at work in the classroom. “Whether she's teaching Algebra 1 or AP Statistics, Kristy connects with her students and gets along so well with the kids,” Burke said. “She never tries to force her way of teaching on a student. She's always looking to find the best way to help each individual student learn.”

Making a connection with students is the foundation of teaching, Halleck said. “Building a relationship with my students is the key to my success as a teacher,” she said. “I think that's true for any teacher in any subject.

“I try to get to know the student and find the key for what will get them to do the work they need to do in the class,” Halleck said. “That's always the big challenge for a teacher: figuring out how to reach every student.

“Every student can learn, they just all learn differently,” she said.

Halleck currently teaches pre-calculus and AP Statistics, and has also taught algebra and geometry. “I always hoped to be able to teach some of the higher-level math courses,” she said. “I enjoy seeing students reach for and achieve at those higher levels.”

Seeing her former students succeed in college is her biggest reward, she said. “With social media and Facebook, you can see what your students are doing in their lives,” Halleck said. “I try to keep in touch with as many of them as I can. It's so exciting to see them heading off into new adventures and knowing you had a small part in helping set them off on the right path.”

Halleck has been married for 14 years to her high school sweetheart, Brian. They have three daughters, 10-year-old twins and a 3-year-old.

Although she knew she was a finalist for the award, Halleck said it still came as a shock when she learned she was a winner during a May 19 awards presentation at Central Crossing. “What made it special was to have my family—my husband and daughters, my parents and my in-laws—there to share in the moment,” she said.