Educator, Leader, Colleague, and Friend:
Kerri Tracy receives the Health Educator of the Year award from NYS AHPERD
Take a moment and think back to what you were taught in your high school Health class. Probably a long list of things to avoid and some uncomfortable slide shows - hardly the most inspiring classroom you sat in. At CHHS, if you ask one of Kerri Tracy’s Health students what she has taught them, they say things like this: “Mrs. Tracy (or ‘KTrace’) taught me values and lessons that I will take with me as I grow.” “She teaches students not only how to see themselves, but to see beyond themselves.”
These sentiments help show the connection that Kerri Tracy has developed with her students. They also illustrate some of the many reasons that Mrs. Tracy has been named the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (NYS AHPERD) Health Education Teacher of the Year. And the Croton-Harmon Tigers could not be more proud to help her celebrate this recognition!
Mrs. Tracy will be honored at a ceremony on November 17, where she will be surrounded by her peers, family, and “like family” colleagues. She shared that the support she has received in Croton-Harmon makes it “easy to succeed,” and acknowledged her colleague and previous NYS AHPERD Health Educator of the Year award winner, Jessica Butts, as an incredible friend and leader in Health education.
In fact, it was Jessica Butts (PVC Health Teacher) and Suzanne Leslie (CET Physical Education Teacher) who nominated Mrs. Tracy for the award, in which they describe her as an incredible educator, supportive colleague, and wonderful friend. CHHS Principal Dr. Laura Dubak calls Mrs. Tracy a “once-in-a-lifetime teacher” saying, “There is rarely a week that goes by without Kerri sharing a new idea or helping a student advocate for themselves.”
Developing relationships with her students is Mrs. Tracy’s favorite part of being a teacher at CHHS. “It’s the relationships you build with the students when you really get to know them and get to be that extra support,” she said. Inside her classroom, she is busy providing her students with wellness skills that they can implement for the rest of their lives. These “timeless skills” include decision-making, setting and communicating boundaries, and managing stress. Her lessons are focused on health-enhancing behaviors, instead of those long lists of “what not to do” mentioned earlier.
Engaging with her students on topics like mental health and relationships has made her a trusted support system for many. She shared that although most students take Health their sophomore year, they may come back years later, remembering a lesson or guest speaker, or looking for help connecting with a resource. “It is important to me that every student feels seen, heard, and safe in my classroom. I try to make my curriculum as inclusive as possible and to help students learn how to treat each other with respect and empathy.”
Mrs. Tracy’s involvement and dedication outside of her classroom are equally important to her. “She is active in the community, present at after-school athletic events, and has even coached for several years, creating deeper bonds with students,” shared Ms. Leslie. Whether she’s working with CHHS Student Assistance Counselor Allison Millen or Croton PD Youth Officer Ward, she wants her students to know that the entire community is there to support them. She’s also connected with local groups, including Planned Parenthood, My Sisters’ Place, Hope’s Door, and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to ensure students have access to all the resources they might need.
When asked what her proudest moment has been in her 13 years at CHHS, Mrs. Tracy shared that some students recalled a specific lesson and how it impacted them. She said that hearing them recount the classroom discussion and how important it was to them is something she will remember for the rest of her career.
During this pivotal time in Croton-Harmon Schools, when we’re encouraging the community to consider “What School Can Be,” Superintendent Steve Walker shares that Kerri Tracy represents this idea completely. “She is passionate, thoughtful, talented, collaborative, and incredibly dedicated. She combines a special gift of connecting with young people with an unparalleled work ethic. To call her a colleague is one of the great honors of my career,” he said.
Congratulations to an exceptional educator, leader, colleague, and friend!