#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘Teachers Can Inspire and Influence Students Both Positively and Negatively. I Decided I Wanted to be a Positive Influence,’ Says Director of Teaching Fellows at NC State Crystal Espey ’11, ’18MSA

Crystal Espey

This is part of a monthly “Why I Chose Education” series in which NC State College of Education alumni, students, faculty and staff share why they chose education.

Growing up in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, with parents who are NC State alumni, Crystal Espey ’11, ’18MSA knew all about the Wolfpack. And she wanted to be a part of it.

She chose the NC State College of Education because of the community, the Teaching Fellows Program and SAY Village. Once she arrived in the college, Espey was confused about how she could become a health and physical education teacher. So she pursued an area where she felt she could make the biggest impact, which led to secondary mathematics education.

After teaching high school math for many years, Espey returned to the College of Education to pursue a Masters in School Administration, where she also applied for the director of Teaching Fellows position. She says she returned because of the fantastic program NC State offered.

“I applied for the director of Teaching Fellows position because it was full circle for me personally. I’m thrilled to be a part of the College of Education and could not see myself anywhere else at the moment,” she said.

Espey is in her third year as the director of Teaching Fellows at NC State, where she works with pre-service teachers in the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program to encourage, inspire and support them as they become STEM and special education educators in the state of North Carolina.

“I love working with our students and strive to create a program full of enrichment opportunities to help create culturally responsive, socially conscious and equity minded educators,” she said.

When she isn’t working, Espey loves spending time with her family. She and her other half, Chris, and their three dogs — Moses, Lady and Violet — enjoy the outdoors. They love going on hikes, camping, taking weekend trips to the beach and mountains and spending time together.

Espey shares why she chose education, how education has shaped her, what she enjoys most about being in the College of Education and what others should know about the college.

Why I Chose Education: In high school I was involved with coaching soccer for the local parks and recreation center and fell in love with working with kids. I decided I wanted my job to be working with students rather than adults and applied for the N.C. Teaching Fellows Program. Upon acceptance, I was a little confused on how to become a health/PE teacher, so I thought about a class I wanted to make a difference in. That led me to secondary mathematics education, where I had the opportunity to change the culture of a math class and help all students learn mathematics even if it was not their favorite subject. I wanted my career to be fun, innovative and never the same thing every day. Teaching provided this opportunity for me in the classroom, which I loved. Through my position now, I am fortunate to work with pre-service teachers, so part of my goal is to make sure our teachers are helping all students succeed and are fantastic in the classroom!

How Education Has Shaped Me: Education has shaped a lot of who I am today. Growing up in Fuquay-Varina, I was fortunate to have parents who preached “education is the key.” As ignorant as it sounds, I thought everyone grew up like this. As I began my journey in education, I realized the power of teachers. Teachers can inspire and influence students both positively and negatively. I decided I wanted to be a positive influence and hope I continue that for all of the Teaching Fellows and students within the college.

What I Enjoy the Most About Being Part of the NC State College of Education: I enjoy a lot of aspects about being a part of the NC State College of Education. I enjoy being proud to say I was an alumna as well as an employee and truly enjoy working with our students. Our students are awesome and one day they will be educators who change the world!

What Others Should Know About the NC State College of Education: The NC State College of Education is the place to be. We have caring faculty, staff and leadership, which you do not always find. Our mission is to be a voice of innovation for learning across the lifespan. We prepare professionals who educate and lead. Our inquiry and practice reflect integrity, a commitment to social justice and the value of diversity in a global community. Here in the College of Education at NC State we are thinking and doing the extraordinary.

The Last Thing I Experienced That Inspired Me: Being able to hold optional and required forums for Teaching Fellows inspires me each semester. The students’ thoughtful questions, responses and desire to become better people and a better society is a beautiful thing to be a part of.