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Teachers are Heroes: Lesley Creel uses positive attitude to transform students

Published Monday, February 19, 2018

Lesley Creel

Lesley Creel (Provided)

As a small child, Lesley Creel knew she wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t until she reached college that her path became certain.

What began as a little girl playing school with her brother morphed into a desire to work with students in need of a different approach. Ms. Creel graduated from College of Charleston and began what’s become a nearly 20-year career teaching students with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities.

“I had a wonderful professor who inspired me to work with students with emotional disabilities,” she said.

Ms. Creel has a passion for learning and a passion for literature. It’s that passion she said she’s always shared with students and hoped it would inspire them to develop a love for learning. As a COPE program teacher at College Park Elementary School, she works with students from all over Berkeley County School District with the intent of getting as many as she can back into general education classrooms. It’s not just about academics. It’s also about making progress with behaviors.

“I believe that all students have special talents inside them, and it is my job to find that talent and help my students recognize and develop those talents,” Ms. Creel said.

If you ask those close to Ms. Creel, they’ll tell you she’s one of the most positive people you will ever meet.

“Lesley Creel is an amazing educator and absolutely masterful with behavior management,” College Park Elementary School principal Amanda Price said. “Through consistency and a positive attitude, her students are truly transformed.”


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“Positive” is even how Creel said she would describe herself if only given one word. Her ability to see the good in things is valuable to her trade. COPE is an acronym for Creating Opportunities for Positive Environment.

Ms. Creel’s proudest moments as an educator are when her students come back to visit — confirmation of her impact on the child.

“I had a former student who had moved out of my program and used his Bark Bones to buy a pass to eat lunch with a favorite teacher. He picked me,” she said of a day at school she’ll never forget.

That day and close work with passionate colleagues are what inspire her to impact as many children as possible.

“I have worked with many amazing principals, teachers and paraprofessionals over the years and their dedication and willingness to help students continues to inspire me to do my best for students,” she said. “…I want all of my students to succeed and work to their fullest potential.”

Ms. Creel holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from College of Charleston and a master’s degree in education from University of Charleston (West Virginia). She is the 2017-18 Teacher of the Year at College Park Elementary.


Brian Troutman