Susan Crooks is an English language arts teacher, the National Junior Honor Society advisor, and a middle school writing specialist at South Carolina Connections Academy (SCCA). She began her teaching career in 1996 and joined SCCA in 2010. Ms. Crooks holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Central Florida; a master of education. from Clemson University; a writing specialist certificate from Clemson; and a certificate in critical thinking from the Foundation for Critical Thinking and is an ambassador for the foundation, the oldest international critical thinking think tank in the world. She shares her story below:
“I grew up as the eldest of nine siblings and have always enjoyed being around children,” said Ms. Crooks. “My parents taught me the values of being a lifelong learner, giving back to the community, and leading through example.
“In high school, I was the president of a group called Teens Who Care. We performed acts of kindness in our community, working with the elderly, hospitalized children, as well as mentally and physically challenged youth and adults. This experience prompted me to further this mission of service as the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) advisor for SCCA. The goal of NJHS is to increase community awareness of important local and world issues. Our members research issues and pitch their reasons for a need for community awareness in our LiveLesson® session meeting room. Students are taught to use critical thinking skills throughout the process. I am fortunate to be part of this wonderful honor society.
“Our faculty work together to ensure that we apply best practices to our teaching. Students are taught strategies to help them develop strong writing skills. We work to apply these writing strategies across the curriculum. As a member of the National Writing Project and Upstate Writing Project, I have participated in presentations and scoring conferences across the nation, learning from the top tier of writing instructors. I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for the written word with my students.
“In the bricks-and-mortar setting, I began using an online writing program that benefited my middle school students. I further searched for online programs for reading to help students learn at their own pace. My students had access to the computer lab once per week and had limited software. This experience drove my interest in online education. After examining many schools, I found that SCCA had not only a strong curriculum, but also a very professional and caring faculty and staff.
“The benefits for students at SCCA are immense; it is great to be free from the encumbrances of classroom distractions for both teachers and students. Teachers are available at the stroke of a key or through a simple phone call. Students can work at their own pace without the constraints of a classroom, as well as repeat lessons that they struggled with to help them better understand the material or move more quickly if they have a strong understanding of the concepts.”
I love working at SCCA because the teachers have a heart for their students and also because I love the opportunity to teach students from all across the state.