Join me in congratulating, 4th grade teacher, Crystal Keefe, who has been named Ravenscroft’s November Innovator of the Month.

Crystal is new to our campus this year, but she has already made huge waves by having hit the ground running with inventive uses of technology and out of the box pedagogical practices! A few examples of her innovative spirit include her use of all the features in her SmartBoard software, her willingness to constantly try new technology tools to engage learners, and her alacrity to encourage and support those around her to do the same. One of her most impressive endeavors has been the implementation of a Genius Hour in her 4th grade classroom which has given students the opportunity to pursue a passion project in a way that allows them to take ownership of their learning. This sort of project will surely foster lifelong creativity and critical thinking skills in the young people with whom she works.

Crystal was asked to describe her educational approach through a series of questions. Here are her responses:

  1. Briefly describe what made you want to become a teacher, and what your teaching philosophy/motto is. I think deep down I have always wanted to be a teacher. My parents tell stories of me playing school as a little girl with my friends and I always had to be the teacher. I have had a thirst for learning as much as a possibly can since I was very young and teaching allows me to share that passion with others while still continuing to grow and better myself every single day. My motto is “don’t follow your dreams, chase them.” I am a strong believer in dreaming big and working hard to make your dreams come true. It is my hope that every single one of my students leaves me not only believing in themselves, but believing in their dreams, and with the desire to do whatever it takes to bring those dreams to fruition.
  2. When did you come to Ravenscroft? From where? This is my first year at Ravenscroft and I am coming from northern Virginia where I taught in public schools for three years.
  3. How has your teaching approach been impacted by technology? Technology is an integral part of my approach to teaching. I have been blessed to work in schools that have had an abundance of technology available to students and teachers and I try to incorporate it into as many of my lessons as possible. One of the biggest impacts of technology for me has been the immediate feedback that I can receive from my students and also give to my students through various different applications. Assessments are much more meaningful when you can analyze the data quickly and adapt your teaching to fit the needs of your students. Technology such as the smart board allows me to reach all types of learners in a single lesson. Students are more engaged and thus able to retain more of the information that is presented to them.
  4. How do you feel technology can actively engage learners? Technology actively engages students because they live in a world where so many technological tools are readily available. The smart board allows teachers to create lessons that are visual and also kinesthetic with the students being able to directly interact with the content on the board. Tools like Kahoot, Padlet, and Peardeck allow students to use their own devices and interact with the content in real time. Assessments no longer have to be mundane pencil and paper tests, they can now be done in the form of fun games and activities.
  5. Give us a brief summary of Genius Hour and a link to the letter you sent home to parents about this project. Genius Hour is one of my favorite things that I do in my classroom! It is a time for students to completely take ownership of their learning involving something they are passionate about. Each cycle spans across 6-9 weeks where students are working on their passion project for roughly an hour a week. Students complete a proposal that has to be approved by me with their topic of interest and how they will present their information at the end of the cycle. The sky’s the limit when it comes to these projects and students absolutely love it! At the end of the cycle, students present their projects to the class and then we invite their parents  as well as other classes to come visit our “Genius Hour Museum.” The ultimate goal at the end of each cycle is that the students become experts on their topic and feel confident sharing their knowledge with a variety of people.
  6. What do you most love about being a Raven? Although I have only been a Raven for a few months, I can’t say enough positive things about this school’s community and mission. I feel blessed to be at a place that not only welcomes new ideas but also encourages creativity and innovation in and out of the classroom.

Are you or is someone you know doing something forward-thinking or innovative? Please reach out to me at to let me know about it! All faculty, staff, and students are eligible for nomination. 

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