Theresa Cross from Alice Harte Charter School has superpowers. At least that’s what the school believes. Beyond her schoolwide responsibilities as a TAP master teacher as part of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching’s (NIET) TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, Cross teaches eighth-grade math and Algebra I. Those end-of-course exam scores consistently achieve a 100% passing rate, compared to the state’s 34% average, thereby earning students high school credit.
Cross is goal-oriented and purpose-driven—qualities she has instilled in students, who aim not just to pass, but also to achieve a perfect Algebra I score. By administering daily assessments and exit tasks to grasp where they stand with the content, Cross gets students and parents personally invested and involved in their academic progress. She provides individual support and partnership to ensure student success, even forgoing a summer vacation once to remediate privately with a student so he could pass math and enter the ninth grade with the rest of his class.
Cross’ hands-on activities in her classroom demonstrate the practical side of math through real-life scenarios: raising beetles for races to measure and map distances or growing classroom plants to calculate and chart heights. She integrates reading in her math class to plot and graph suspense points from “The Most Dangerous Game” novel. These rigorous yet engaging lessons build transferable skills, helping her students become mathematically literate citizens.
As a TAP master teacher, Cross’ directional skills impact the whole school, but most especially the math department at this largely minority school. Though TAP’s model of teacher leadership, professional learning, evaluation and performance-based compensation, Cross fosters a collaborative spirit among educators and students alike. She shares best instructional practices and curriculum resources with faculty, counsels and conferences with career (classroom) and mentor teachers analyzing all student data to determine best courses of action to aid struggling students. She also sits on multiple school committees and leadership teams, and conducts professional learning exercises that nurture educator effectiveness and a positive school culture.
Cross earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Music Management in 2004 as well as an MBA in 2006, both from Baldwin Wallace University (formerly Baldwin-Wallace College) in Berea, Ohio.
Press release: New Orleans Master Teacher Theresa Cross earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award
WATCH: Theresa Cross addresses assembly at her surprise Milken Educator Award notification
"I am starting an InspireNOLA Educator Award (with an unrestricted financial award), similar to the Milken Award. It will go to an..." (read more)