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McDowell County Schools

Hear from Renata Crawley about organized chaos and life-long learning at McDowell County Schools.

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Meet Renata Crawley

Teacher Ambassador

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I have lived in McDowell County since I was four years old and attended public schools here where I received the best education from passionate teachers. Every child is different. Every child’s success is measured differently. In McDowell County, we appreciate and celebrate diversity by offering many paths for students to become successful. Our vision is shared through business and stakeholder partnerships, and community outreach, for students to be educated for college, career, and life.


  • 5th Grade Science Teacher



    • 2000- West Marion Elementary Teacher of the Year
    • 2002- National Board Certification
    • 2007- Bright Ideas Grant Recipient
    • 2008, 2009, 2014, 2017- Burroughs Wellcome Student Science Enrichment Grant Recipient to create and sustain after school science clubs
    • 2008-present: Director of Project Wild Thing Afterschool Science Clubs
    • 2011- West Marion Elementary Teacher of the Year
    • 2012- National Board Certification Renewal
    • 2015, 2016, 2017- Duke Energy Science Night Kit Recipient
    • 2016- Awesome Asheville Grant Recipient
    • 2016- Action For Healthy Kids Grant Recipient
    • 2019- Burroughs Wellcome Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers
    • 2019-2015 Facilitator/trainer for North Carolina Inquiry Collaborative Network
    • 2019 McDowell County Teacher of the Year
    • 2020 Smithsonian Science for North And South Carolina Classrooms Trainer
    • National Board Certification Renewal

    Teacher Certification Program

    Why I Teach

    I have been a teacher in North Carolina for 29 years. Every day I go into my classroom believing that all students can learn. I set high expectations for every student. Their life has purpose and I make sure students know this on day one when they enter my classroom. I believe students must be engaged in their environment and connect with nature by becoming immersed in the “Doing” of science. My classroom is lively, busy, and sometimes loud. It is organized chaos where microscopes, globes, field guides, butterflies, and bug boxes are common. I have the greatest job in the world. I get to work with ten year old children on a daily basis. I get to see empathy, compassion, perseverance, and struggles play out as my students grow in their learning abilities. I teach because I have the privilege of guiding students in finding their path in their community and in their world where they can give back to others. My focus is to guide children in becoming life-long learners who are compassionate, confident, and driven to set personal goals for success in life.

    McDowell County Schools by the numbers

    • 516

      Dedicated Teachers

    • 6,039

      Engaged Learners

    About McDowell County Schools

    • About

      McDowell County is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with close proximity to Charlotte, Asheville, and Greenville-Spartanburg. Our School System includes 14 campuses: 1 comprehensive high school, 1 early college, 1 Academy HS, 2 middle schools, 1 magnet MS, and 8 elementary schools. Our 1100 employees serve almost 6100 students and their families. Our location allows us to enjoy unlimited access to outdoor recreation and the natural beauty of Lakes James, Tahoma, and Lure. We also enjoy some of the most beautiful views in the region, including many vistas of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

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