Carly Cravotta's favorite thing about teaching is being an influential person in her students' lives.
Carly Cravotta is a firm believer that, as quoted by 19th century educational reformer Horace Mann, that "education is the great equalizer."
She has been aware of racial disparities since she was young. Her grandparents were very active in the Civil Rights Movement, protesting for the equality they wished to see in the world. Cravotta followed in their footsteps in the way she felt she could do it best: Through teaching.
"When I was a child, I felt very powerful when I learned something new, and I want to equip students everywhere with the power of knowledge," Cravotta said. "Students with less-than-perfect home lives. Students who are told they have no future. The disenfranchised students. They are why I want to be a teacher."
The nomination for Seabreeze High's School's teacher of the year is validation that she is doing something right, Cravotta said. She often feels like she could be doing a better job, and admits she is hard on herself. As a teacher, she pushes herself to do more, whether that means staying late, making lessons more creative or volunteering to help others.
For the last four years, she taught ninth grade English, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is now in charge of the school's Advancement Via Individual Determination program, a student college and career readiness program.
Her favorite thing about teaching is being an influential person her students' lives, she said. Every Monday, she and her students do a mental health activity and talk about the benefits of improving one's mental health through actions.
"I’m hoping the habits my students build in my classroom make it out into the real world and become lifelong practices," she said.
If she could share one piece of wisdom with her students, it would be the importance of being kind. Cravotta said that in today's polarized social media-obsessed society, we all need to remember to be kind to one another.
"We forget that everyone is battling an invisible battle, so I want my students to build empathy and know what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes," Cravotta said. "Once we start putting our differences aside, and focus on what we have in common, our country will become a better place."