May 2021 – Anastasia Criswell

By: Diana Prudius and Brooke Ehmann – Jones

May 19, 2021

May’s Panther spotlight goes to Ms. Criswell, a beloved 6th and 7th grade French teacher at Glasgow. She has been teaching for 25 years! She was born in Philadelphia but moved to London at the age of 4, where she lived until her late twenties. Before becoming a teacher, she worked at a record store and as a Europe tour guide. She then went to London University for six years and got her first teaching job in London. In 1997, she arrived in Fairfax and taught German for 10 years. Many students recognize Ms. Criswell for her British accent and are interested to learn more about her background. Despite English being her native tongue, she speaks 4 other languages including French, German, Greek, and a pinch of Spanish. Ms. Criswell also has Greek heritage.

“I always remember wanting to be a teacher by the age of 10 I suppose. I liked school, I was a good student, I was a goodie goodie, never got into trouble, always did my work. I always read. I remember even at your age, middle school, I was always reading. I liked to learn… I was the first one to go to university in my family, neither of my parents did, so I did not come from an educated family. I just liked school and I liked learning.” Ms. Criswell said. As a child, Ms. Criswell thrived in the classroom. Both her elementary school and middle school years were very monocultural, very white.  She was the only person that was like a foreigner, being Greek. Her high school was more diverse. That’s one of the reasons she loves Glasgow.

Another reason Ms. Criswell likes teaching is, “Being in a classroom, and kids get excited if I tell them something. Like in intro when I told everyone English came from German, and they go ‘what?’” She likes seeing their reactions to learning something new. When asked her least part of teaching she said, “I’ll be honest, and it’s why a lot of teachers leave the profession, is when let’s say students don’t behave in the best way.” 

 

Ms. Criswell makes sure to stay connected with her students as best she can. “Since Covid, most of us have been online. In panther time and FIT, I ask ‘is everyone ok?’ because I don’t know who’s sick and won’t tell their teachers. ‘Is everyone eating’ because you know parents have lost jobs, ‘do you have food on the table?’” She is always open to emails, and ready to help any student. She also connects with her students. “I try to find out something about everyone. . . I’m very quick at learning names. . . I will be able to tell you every background. So I could say, well he’s Puerto Rican, he’s from Vietnam. It would be very unusual for me to not know my kids’ backgrounds.”

When asked about her hobbies, Ms. Criswell did not hesitate to say “I will read like a demon. I read on average probably 25 novels a year, classic books a lot, or books about language.” She adores reading classics, like Jane Austin, Shakespeare, and Dickins. Her passion for reading is so strong she could read a dictionary. She often refers to herself as being part of the grammar police for her vast knowledge of grammar.  Ms. Criswell also loves watching old movies from the 1930’s and 1940’s. 

Ms. Criswell’s goal as a language teacher is to open people’s eyes to languages. The mark she makes on students’ lives is important. She makes it her mission to teach students about languages and cultures around the globe. Ms. Criswell is a truly remarkable teacher!, no matter the circumstances.