Many teachers say they like to take a personal interest in their student’s lives. Krista Sipes – a teaching and learning curriculum educator at Moore High School (Jefferson County) — is taking that idea to heart.
On a Sunday in April, Sipes was helping Shanya Holbert, a Moore senior, shop for a prom dress. Holbert would visit Sipes’ classroom often throughout the year, despite not being one of her students. Over the school year, the two formed a connection.
Sipes says Holbert was raising money to do many of the plans she had, one of which was going to prom. With permission from Holbert’s parents, Sipes decided to clear her day to take the now-graduate prom dress shopping.
Sipes says seeing students happy makes her feel good and she was just excited to help.
“I get to spend a portion of my paycheck on whatever I want,” Sipes said. “I could go out and spend it all on myself if I want, but a lot of times I use it to help my former students.”
That kindness makes an impression on her students.
“I have a lot of experience with Miss Sipes,” Holbert said. “She would take me home after school because she knew I didn’t like taking the bus. She bought me my prom dress, my shoes and my makeup. Ms. Sipes is a really great person. I have a lot of respect for her.”
This is not the only example of Sipes going out of her way to support both her past and present students.
Prior to teaching at Moore High School, the 18-year educator worked at the Georgia Chaffee Teenage Parent Program and Iroquois High School, both located in Jefferson County. Many of her former students still contact her, and she has even been known to help out former students who now have children if they’re running out of diapers or formula.
Sipes strives to provide her students with a sense of belonging and purpose. That effort is seen in her students and even they recognize it.
“I graduated high school this May, and I truly could not have done it without her,” said Brenda Ramirez, a recent graduate of Moore and a former student of Sipes. “When I was close to dropping out, I went to talk to her. From there she helped me out a lot.
“She cares not just about the students’ education, but the student as a whole and I think that’s what makes her a great teacher. I always wanted to be a teacher, but after I met Ms. Sipes, I was even more sure I wanted to become one.”
Sipes’ former students describe her as warm, caring, patient and empathetic.
“Many students [at Iroquois] are people of color, low income, immigrants and more. Ms. Sipes believed in us,” said Iroquois graduate Daydrianna Jefferies, another one of Sipes’ former students. “She connected with us and provided a safe environment and went above and beyond to understand each student’s needs to provide support. Ms. Sipes’ dedication and care left a lasting impact on me, making an invaluable asset to my educational journey.”
Sipes just wants her students to feel loved and like they belong and to provide them with support.
“I take the quote ‘They don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care’ to heart,” said Sipes.