Providence Teacher of the Year, Laura Craner, encourages kindness and creativity in her classroom
Laura Craner lives by the saying, “Be a nice human.” She frequently reminds her students how important it is to be kind to everybody because she believes that an essential part of education is to create an environment where students will thrive. When students feel comfortable, safe, and valued, they more easily learn skills that will help them become successful adults.
Treating people with kindness and being a nice human starts with setting boundaries. Craner expressed how negotiating boundaries is essential to her sixth graders because it allows them to know what is and is not acceptable in a classroom and in life. Although it can be challenging to set boundaries, once they are established, Craner is able to not only be her students’ friend and teacher but also to motivate and encourage each student to achieve their potential.
Craner enjoys teaching many subjects, but she has a special place in her heart for Language Arts and science. As an undergrad at Utah State University, she studied literature and now continues to see the value that reading and writing have on students. “Language Arts is the foundation for success,” she explained. Her belief is that, when students understand how to critically think and process the world around them, they are able to go further in life because they know how to express themselves and continue to set their own boundaries.
Craner enjoys the creative process that comes with Language Arts and finds that same joy in teaching science. She received her STEM endorsement several years ago and has been teaching the design and engineering process as part of the curriculum. Her students are currently working on a project where they create hot air balloons made out of tissue paper. The project demonstrates how air masses are created and how hot and cold air mixed together lifts hot air balloons.
For the project, students first make a hot air balloon using a plastic grocery bag. With a hairdryer, they fill the bag with hot air and watch it rise. The students then brainstorm ideas of how to improve their grocery bag hot air balloons. The next step is to use their critical thinking skills to create a second hot air balloon model using pieces of paper. Each student presents their design to the class, troubleshoots problems, and makes improvements to their peers' models. Craner approves the designs and provides the supplies to create a larger scale hot air balloon using tissue paper. Once her students have completed their final models, Craner will take the tissue hot air balloons outside and fill them with hot air so the students can see how high they float. Hands-on activities like this one are creative and fun and help students to stay engaged in the learning process, even as the school year winds down.
“Laura dedicates so much of her time to the school and her students,” Providence principal Jeff Keck observed. “It is clear that her students love her. It’s easy to see that she makes learning fun and interesting. Laura is just an amazing person! She is always willing to put in 100% for whatever assignment she is given. She maintains a supportive and positive attitude at all times and is a strong contributor to the culture of our school.”