The 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year for Sweetwater High School is Christi Adams. She teaches AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) for students in all grades, serves as the varsity boys and girls cross country coach, and is also the junior varsity boys and girls tennis coach.
While she has been teaching for 27 years, Adams has spent a decade teaching within Sweetwater ISD (Independent School District). She attended Howard County Junior College and Angelo State University, in which she earned an Associate of Arts degree and Bachelor of Science degree in English/Kinesiology/Psychology/Sociology.
Adams is heavily involved in numerous organizations, as she has been a member of the TGCA (Texas Girls Coach's Association), THSCA (Texas High School Coach's Association), and the TTCA (Texas Tennis Coach's Association). She was also a board member for Little Dribblers in Marble Falls and Miles, while she was the director for PIP (Players in Progress) in Marble Falls.
Also, she is a Psychology Member Association, an AVID site team member and has been the coordinator for the PALS (Peer Assistance Leadership) program.
While she taught in Miles, Adams was a member of the discipline, site base and attendance teams, as well as a campus council member--a position she now holds in Sweetwater. Furthermore, she has been a National Honor Society (NHS) committee member in both Sweetwater and Miles.
In addition to her recent Teacher of the Year award, Adams has been named Who's Who among Teachers as nominated by students.
Adams is also very active in community efforts, especially within church. She was a member of the First United Methodist Church for 38 years; since 2008, she has been a member of the Beltway Baptist Church in Abilene.
She has been a church camp counselor in Arkansas and also a co-sponsor of the Baptist youth group on their trips to Colorado. Adams has also been a worker for Vacation Bible School and the Fall Festival within church.
Her community involvement regarding sports has allowed her to be an umpire and referee for Peewee basketball and Little Dribblers for several seasons in Marble Falls. While in Marble Falls and also in Miles and Sweetwater, she has managed and directed various summer camps for volleyball, basketball and tennis.
Additionally in Marble Falls and Miles, Adams worked on Project Graduation committees. Her work with AVID and NHS in Marble Falls and Sweetwater has also given her the opportunity to participate in Toys for Tots, Backpack Buddies, decorating and delivering poinsettias to various nursing homes, buying/wrapping/delivering Christmas gifts to children in the hospital with cancer, and providing complete meals for needy families during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Adams' reason for teaching stems all the way back to an experience when she was five years old. She refers to it as her "Forrest Gump memory," when she was diagnosed with a hip disease that caused one leg to become two inches shorter than the other.
As a result, she ended up wearing leg braces that closely resembled what the titular character wore as a child in the movie, leading her to call it her "Christi Gump stage". In the middle of the situation, she ended up getting leg casts and stayed in the Shriners Cripple Children's Hospital in Houston for over a month--without any of her family members.
It seemed as if the braces and cast would allow people to feel sorry for her, but Adams says, "It didn't take long to inspire me to drop the 'poor me/why me' mode." Her hospital roommate was in need of a transplant, which made her see how fortunate she was.
"We made a pact that if we both got out of the hospital and became healthy, we wouldn't take that gift for granted. Thus was instilled the 'never quit' and 'love for a challenge' character traits that I lean on heavily in education," she explained.
Growing up, she learned the 'no limits' and 'dream big' philosophies--both of which assist her in the classroom and athletic fields. While in elementary school and in her casts, she played hopscotch and was never limited by her teachers or parents. As a result, the "I could do or be anything" philosophy was instilled and is still used today by Adams with her "budding little AVID scholars."
It was in junior high, high school and college where education and sports were truly appreciated by Adams through teachers who motivated and influenced her. By the time she was a high school freshman, she knew she wanted to be a teacher.
"I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face during those first years of teaching," Adams recollected. Through building strong Godly friendships, the combined personal and professional encouragement strengthened her desire to teach.
She said that by doing what she loved, she developed the idea that "if you love what you are doing then you will never work a day in your life.” Thus, Adams encourages her students to seek out a job, but not one that simply makes financial ends meet.
But in her 25+ years of teaching, Adams has endured highs and lows, which has taught her the "this too shall pass" concept. A notable experience was the death of her starting senior setter in Marble Falls two days before the season began, which she admits shook her confidence and affected her both personally and professionally.
Additionally, the death of her father a few years ago had the same effect. "I had to face some dark days but my faith was a godsend," she explained, and by leaning on her students and athletes, "the student became the teacher."
Beyond sports, Adams looked back on a time when she taught freshman English for about 14 years. The opportunity allowed her to stay interested in teaching, as the profession had started to become stagnant.
And most recently, the challenge of teaching AVID proved that she could adapt to a new venture. "Change can be awesome but fear freezes fear," she noted, and that mindset is now being taught to her AVID students, especially her seniors.
By teaching that "failure is only failure if you give in, reaching your goals isn’t easy, and exhibit perseverance”, she wants graduating students to understand that there is more beyond the high school cap and gown in the midst of disappointments and rewards in life and academics.
"Teachers who want to make an impact with educating children must buy in and hold themselves accountable for the concepts they teach," Adams stressed. And even though she feels like she has a new lease on life, she also says she feels just a giddy like when she started her teaching career.
"I feel a bit guilty in accepting the Teacher of the Year Award," she admits. "I have such great students, a fabulous district coordinator, truly wonderful tutors, and incredibly motivated administrators and AVID Site Team members."
In fact, she follows the philosophy of "giving credit where credit is due" and believes that the AVID family was the recipient of the award, understanding the old saying that "there is no I in TEAM". And keeping in line with her English background, "Adams' Educational Insights" offers a final glimpse into her teaching philosophy.
All things learned won’t always come from a book,
There should be a nice blend so let’s take a look.
Teamwork, knowledge, respect, discipline, and goals
Will earn students the right to graduate with many stoles.
Organization, character, morals, responsibility, and leadership
Entices students to want to grab a high school and college diploma slip.
Through C-scope, TAKS, STAAR, stress, and strife,
I firmly believe:
“Happy Teacher, Happy Students;
Happy Students, Happy Life."