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Teachers of the Year: Aubrey Cripps
Teachers of the Year: Aubrey Cripps
Posted on 08/01/2019
Aubrey Cripps talks with some of her students in her classroom.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Aubrey Cripps believes in the “magic” of learning.

Cripps, a fifth-grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at North Windy Ridge Intermediate School, makes her classroom an imaginative space of Harry Potter themes. She assigns each student to one of the four Hogwarts houses from the books, based on their personalities and learning styles. Their active seating desks have quill pens with feather colors that match the house banners hanging from the wall. “Potions” and books line the shelves, and homemade props surround the students. It feels like a Hogwarts classroom.

“My classroom is a universe between four walls,” Ms. Cripps said. “It’s an outlet for me to express my love of reading. And I tell my students that Harry Potter might not be their ‘right book,’ but there’s a book somewhere in this room that will do that.”

She has good reason to lean into J.K. Rowling’s fictional world: the books awoke her own love of reading when she was a child. For the first time, she saw the purpose of reading, beyond sounding out the words – she found the journey.

“So for me, those books really were magic,” she said. “I realized that reading is a portal you can walk around in. You can meet new people and travel around without going anywhere. I want my students to see that.”

Cripps is North Windy Ridge’s Teacher of the Year, and last month she became Teacher of the Year for the whole North Buncombe District. Principal Brent Wise described her as “innovative, fun, and engaging.”

“She wakes up something in her students,” he said. “They feel an expectation to succeed, and she helps them rise to it.”

Ms. Cripps never considered being a teacher when she was growing up. A quiet introvert, she never expected to lead a classroom. She still sometimes wonders how she got here.

“But the question is always answered when I’m standing in front of my students,” she said. “I have to pull out my best self for them. It feels like a calling, like I was chosen: ‘that one will be a teacher.’”

Cripps is one of seven classroom teachers selected as a district teacher of the year out of the 1,650 teachers in the BCS system. She and the other six district winners will be featured in an upcoming special video produced by the BCS Communications Department. One of the seven district winners will be selected as the overall BCS Teacher of the Year.

Aubrey Cripps plays her flute during an outdoor history reenactment with her class.A student brushes wind chimes with a wand in Ms. Cripps's classroom.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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