Creativity is at the heart of Christy Todd’s purpose in education, and she is driven to help students find their own purpose. Rising Starr Middle music technology teacher Christy Todd was named the 2022 Fayette County Teacher of the Year at the annual awards ceremony on April 14.
Through teaching, Todd puts three core beliefs into practice: Every student can create, creativity is a tool that can deepen learning across subject areas, and transfer of knowledge must exist outside of the classroom for learning to become relevant and meaningful.
“To me, at the very heart of creativity is acknowledging value, the divine in each person, and the power each individual holds to bring ideas to life,” she said. “When we build an infrastructure for creativity in our classrooms, in our schools, and in our district, we are helping build the next generation of creative problem solvers who will cure cancer, discover new galaxies, plant community gardens, and just be kind people.”
Todd, with 13 years in teaching, currently facilitates the Community for Creativity program at Rising Starr Middle, where she supports student creation of songs, podcasts, videos, games, audio books, and more, which are then released through the school’s entertainment label, Hall Pass Entertainment.
You will find her in the school teaching classes, leading professional development, making online learning modules, collaborating with industry partners, posting content, and giving feedback to student creators.
Over the past four years, she’s supported over 150 students completing a middle school capstone project as part of their 8th-grade literacy class, including up-cycled denim clothing, a remodeled teacher workroom, a website for locating Christmas light displays, a virtual reality tour of the school for new students and parents, and an album of original music released on streaming platforms.
Todd noted that while much of teaching can be focused on grades, Milestones, SATs, and college acceptances, those aren’t the results that truly measure the meaning of a teacher.
“The results that we are truly working towards can’t be measured for decades. They aren’t easily quantifiable,” she said. “It is about building the next generation of productive citizens, students who are empowered to create their own futures.”
Educators spark fires to light the way for a bright future for every student.
“Each one of the teachers sitting here in this room could share stories, letters, and drawings given to them by a student, moments where you just know the future has shifted for that one child,” she said. “It’s our superhero power – teachers change the future when we help students see their potential, and we are passionate about our work because, at some point in our lives, someone did it for us, too.”
Each of the finalists, Todd along with Jodii Gorski of Sara Harp Minter Elementary and Kayla Powell of Robert J. Burch Elementary, were observed in their classrooms and interviewed by the judging panel, which consisted of two retired educators and last year’s county winner, Emily Hodge of McIntosh High. The teacher with the highest combined judges’ score was named the 2022 Fayette County Teacher of the Year.
“As the 2022 Fayette County Teacher of the Year, I plan to use my voice to advocate for public school education and to continue to explore the space where excellence and creativity can merge in our district,” said Todd. “Thank you for the opportunity.”