Educators recognized as best

Mary Katherine Murphy Staff reporter

August 22, 2013

Two educators were recognized by the Scotland County Schools on Wednesday as among the county’s most outstanding.

Michael Kryszak, a teacher at Wagram Primary School and that school’s 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year, was named countywide Teacher of the Year. Like the other school-level winners, Kryszak was selected as Teacher of the Year in his school by a nomination and votes from his fellow Wagram teachers.

Based upon dossiers submitted by each of the 14 school-level teachers of the year, a selection committee including media representatives, central office administrators, and St. Andrews University education professor Rona Leach McLeod, picked Kryszak and North Laurinburg Elementary School teacher Catherine Pinkston as finalists for the countywide honor. Following in-class observations of the two finalists, Kryszak was named countywide Teacher of the Year.

The upcoming school year will be Kryszak’s fifth as a teacher in Scotland County. He has taught fourth grade language arts and social studies at Shaw Elementary and Wagram Primary. In 2012-2013, Kryszak faced a new career challenge in teaching a small group of students from first to fifth grade who were identified as having emotional or behavioral obstacles to learning.

“This year has really pushed me to hold to my expectations for students and expectations of work because they will challenge anything and everything you say and do, so you really have to hold true to what your expectations are and make them clear to the students,” Kryszak told the Laurinburg Exchange soon after he was named a Teacher of the Year finalist.

Principal of the Year

Scotland Early College High School principal Joe Critcher was, for the first time in his career, named countywide Principal of the Year.

The county’s 14 school principals themselves submitted nominations for which among them stood out from the crowd during the 2012-2013 school year. A three-person committee of outgoing Principal of the Year John Teal, Chamber of Commerce president Tonia Stephenson, and Dave Wells of WLNC Radio then interviewed the two with the most votes - Critcher and Jamie Synan, who served as Wagram Primary’s principal last year - and selected a winner.

Critcher is beginning his fourth year as principal of SEarCH, which is based at his own alma mater, St. Andrews University.

“I’m very honored to be nominated by the principals of the county,” said Critcher. “I know I can get on the phone and talk to any principals right now and get good advice, so it’s a huge honor to be principal of the year in Scotland County.”

Critcher attributed his success as a principal to his school’s staff and students.

“A principal’s only as good as his staff and I have a very enthusiastic staff,” he said. “I think that the early college has grown with the help of St. Andrews and Richmond Community College and we’re starting to become entrenched in the community and people are starting to understand that our kids have a lot to offer Scotland County.”