"When I graduated from college, I wanted to come back to Grove City to teach, but you don't always get so lucky. I was lucky." -- Kristy Halleck, Central Crossing math teacher

It all adds up to a simple equation for Kristy Halleck, one of three winners in the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2017 Teachers of the Year contest.

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.

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } Central Crossing High School teacher Kristy Halleck describes her methods of teaching. Halleck was chosen as a winner in the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2017 Teachers of the Year contest.

"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," Halleck said.

Halleck's mother, Susan Greenway, nominated her for this year's contest.

This year, 133 Teachers of the Year nominations were received for educators all over central Ohio.

The editorial staffs of both sponsors chose 15 finalists and put them up for a public vote. Three winners were chosen: one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Halleck, the winner at the high school level, received her award at an assembly held May 19 at Central Crossing High School.

Halleck, 36, graduated from Grove City High School.

She was recommended for hiring at Central Crossing by Lori Fullen, who was Halleck's Algebra 2 teacher during her sophomore year.

Fullen taught at Grove City before being assigned to Central Crossing when it opened in 2002 and is back at Grove City High School, still teaching math.

Another important influence was Jerry Nuckles. Now retired, Nuckles taught Halleck in pre-calculus during her junior year and Advanced Placement calculus the following year.

Central Crossing principal Jill Burke also taught Halleck, in a geometry class during her freshman year.

"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."

"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 view Halleck at work as her evaluator at Central Crossing.

"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.

"That's always the big challenge for a teacher -- figuring out how to reach every student," she said.

"Every student can learn, they just all learn differently," Halleck said.

Halleck has been teaching at Central Crossing for 14 years. Aside from some early tutoring, her entire career has been spent at the school. She currently teaches pre-calculus and AP statistics, although she 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."

Halleck 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 veterinarian. For awhile 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.

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," she said.

She has been married for 14 years to her high school sweetheart, Brian. The couple have three daughters, a 3-year-old and twins who are 10.

Although she knew she was a finalist for the award, Halleck said it still came as a shock when she learned she was a recipient during the May 19 assembly.

"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.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

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