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2013 Excellence in Teaching Award Winner

Fran McCrackin, 1st Grade, Janney Elementary School

McCrackin class 5

Fran McCrackin began teaching in the D.C. Public Schools in 1997, after a career as an anthropologist, and joined the faculty at Janney a year later. She appreciates the school’s busy but caring atmosphere, and praises her colleagues as a “community of learners—extremely hard-working, dedicated, and eager to explore how to become better at what we do.” All three of her children attended Janney, going on to Deal Middle School and Wilson Senior High School. Ms. McCrackin has contributed to teacher development throughout her career, participating in teacher advisory groups with the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian, serving as a mentor teacher with the Carnegie Academy for Science Education to promote science education in early childhood classrooms in DCPS, and traveling to Japan as a Fulbright Memorial Fund teacher in 2003.

Ms. McCrackin focuses her students on real-world connections to make their curriculum more meaningful, such as bringing them outside to trace how shadows change during the day. She says, “I like to get to know families, woo siblings, and see the child as a whole person, not just as my first grader.” Part of the strategy to motivate her students involves her classroom’s pet mice, which she uses “to lure reluctant children in and to teach them to be calm and gentle, so they can hold a small animal.” Norah Lycknell, Principal at Janney Elementary, raves about Ms. McCrackin’s contributions to the school community. “In many ways, Fran has a magic about her. She respects her first graders, and they adore her, thriving in a place of joy and belonging. She sees them as learners and pushes their thinking, but she also sees them as people, pushing them to be better citizens, classmates, and friends.” As Ms. McCrackin explains, “You can never be bored, and if you are tired, you forget it in the presence of children.”

Watch Fran McCrackin’s tribute video.