Gross works to support and teach her ‘babies’

Published 10:56 pm Sunday, February 18, 2018

Kristy Gross’s students are her ‘babies.’

As a fourth grade teacher, Gross works to see her students grow academically, but also to help them grow as people so when they leave her classroom they are better off than when they entered.

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“I want them to feel like they are worth something,” Gross said. “I want them to feel that love. I want them to get the maturing they’re maybe not getting. I also want them to know when they leave the classroom, that they still have a responsibility. Whatever they learn I want them to be able to carry outside of the classroom.”

Gross teaches fourth grade English and social studies at Vicksburg Intermediate and is her school’s nominee for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Gross graduated from the University of Phoenix with a bachelors in education in 2015 and is in her third year teaching at VIS.

“It is a very humbling experience,” Gross said of being chosen teacher of the year. “I was totally shocked, but it lets me know I am doing something right and I can appreciate that.”

Gross comes from a family of educators as her mom, aunt and cousin all worked in the field. She said she decided to follow them into teaching after, “Looking around and knowing there was a need for very good positive educators.” In her classroom, she works to use real world examples and hands-on lessons to bring the content to life for her students.

“I’ve got to realize these kids don’t give me textbook answers and I don’t ask them for textbook answers,” Gross said “What I usually do is, for instance say we are having a lesson on inference. I will take things from around the house, just common things, and I get them to figure out what is in a brown paper bag. I get my kids to do raps and I get them to perform in front of the class.”

She also lets her students have a say in their education. When deciding what to do it is a give and take between her and her students with their ideas and suggestions holding considerable weight.

“I love feedback. I ask them because I say it’s not my classroom,” Gross said. “It is our classroom. What can we do to enhance our environment? What do you all think we should do for fun Friday? They give me feedback and I take everything they tell me into consideration. That is my favorite part, to actually get something from them.”

The Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce will choose one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the chamber luncheon Feb. 21. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-up for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.

“It would mean so much to me,” Gross said of her reaction if she won the award. “It would mean I would have to live up to those expectations continuously inside and outside of work. I would have to make sure my colleagues do as well. We are a team.”