CARROLLTON, GA — From a young age, Kristina Bivins aspired to become a teacher one day, but her journey was far from ordinary. As a child struggling with a learning disability, she would overcome many challenges on her path to making her dream a reality.
“Reading aloud was extremely embarrassing for me because of my slow fluency rate and inability to decode words; school was a painful experience for me.”
That is until she met her fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Nash. Bivins said Nash took the time to get to know each of her students and poured into them.
“She was willing to step up and face the challenges that I brought her way and never saw me as a burden which is something I will never forget, said Bivins. “She saw my strengths and not just my weaknesses. Mrs. Nash set the standards high and held her students to her high expectations. She made us a part of her family and did not allow us to destroy one another by hurtful words or actions. She was the first teacher I remember who told me to hold on to my dream of becoming a teacher and not to ever let the challenges I face stop me from making that dream come true.”
Bivins noted that while Mrs. Nash proved to be an exceptional teacher, she still attributes a significant portion of her success to her mother, who served as her initial and most influential teacher.
“Many nights I would cry because learning was so difficult for me,” said Bivins. “My mother would always say these words to me, ‘As long as you try your best, I will always be proud of you!’ Throughout my life I have called my mother just to hear her say these very words. I find myself repeating these words inside my classroom on a daily basis as my students are completing tasks that are challenging for them. Because of my mother I have learned that it is not about being the smartest, but about working hard to accomplish the goals you wish to reach in your lifetime.”
Bivins turned her dream of becoming a teacher into a reality 22 years ago.
“I get to live my greatest dream everyday and it truly fills my heart with happiness. The people and experiences I have encountered have molded me into the teacher I am today.”
She said her greatest accomplishment thus far in her career is becoming a transition teacher.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with 16-18 children every year who struggle just like I did in school,” said Bivins. “I get to help my students overcome obstacles they never thought they could.”
Bivins’ impact on her students and other faculty members led to her selection as Carrollton Elementary School Teacher of the Year for 2023-2024 last spring. She and Teachers of the Year for other district schools – Becky Benefield, Carrollton High School; Timothy Brodeur, Carrollton Middle School; and Christine Carter, Carrollton Upper Elementary School, are now vying for the district honor to be announced at the Oct. 3 Board of Education meeting.