On Friday morning, Kathy Chrisman unpacked black and purple sweatshirts from a large cardboard box. The advanced marketing teacher ran back and forth from her classroom to the school store, making preparations for the 7:30 p.m. football game against Martinsburg.
To her students, Chrisman is more than a teacher.
“She’s a friend,” senior Kelly Jameson said.
Chrisman begins her days in the school store with her advanced marketing students.
“These are my babies,” she said.
For many of the students, they’ve known Chrisman since freshman year. Potomac Falls High School senior Carmen Nedab met Chrisman in the ninth grade, when she joined DECA, the international association of marketing students. The club advisor took Nedab under her wing and taught her the basics to being a successful businessperson. That’s what she does for a living.
At 10:30 a.m. Friday, seniors filed into her classroom. Chrisman’s walls are adorned with photos from past DECA competitions, Potomac Falls High School students in New York City in front of NBC studios and last year’s senior class. Her bulletin boards are covered with sports paraphernalia from her alma mater Virginia Tech and her cabinet doors are plastered with senior portraits.
Chrisman began her first lesson of the day, time management.
“Pull out your planners,” she said. “Better time management is the key to being successful.”
DECA president Kathryn Farwell has known Chrisman for four years as club advisor and marketing teacher.
“She’s much different inside the classroom than she is outside,” Farwell said. “In the classroom she’s serious, focused. But she’s not afraid to take time out and laugh.”
Outside the classroom, the Potomac Falls senior said Chrisman is a lot of fun.
“She’s always on the go. She knows everyone,” Farwell said. “Even though our town is huge, she makes it feel a little bit smaller.”
CHRISMAN BEGAN WORKING for Loudoun County Public Schools 24 years ago. For 16 years, she worked at Park View High School as a teacher, cheerleading coach and DECA advisor. There, she met her husband, a fellow teacher and football coach, Jim Chrisman, who has since transferred to Potomac Falls.
“We met on the first day of school,” she said.
Eight years ago, the marketing teacher and club advisor moved to Potomac Falls High School. Now, Chrisman and her husband teach a few classrooms away.
With her busy schedule, Chrisman said she is lucky to have a husband who understands that she has to go to work early and stay at school late.
“He’s very supportive,” she said. “He understands it.”
During football games and school events, Chrisman is on the sidelines selling Potomac Falls gear.
“She sets a good example for us,” Jameson said.
As part of the advanced marketing course, Jameson works as assistant manager at fast-food restaurant Chick-fil-A. She receives credit for the time she puts in there.
In addition to the job, Jameson serves on the DECA board, works in the school store and helps sell spirit gear alongside Chrisman.
“My students are really busy,” Chrisman said.
Last spring, Potomac Falls DECA club had three national champions at the DECA International Career Development Conference in Dallas, Texas.
The DECA students will begin preparing for this year’s competition in one month.
“That’s when things start to get really crazy around here,” Chrisman said.
THIS SUMMER, Chrisman was named the 2006 Virginia Marketing Teacher of the Year by the Virginia Association of Marketing Educators.
Advanced marketing student and DECA officer Catherine Porter said Chrisman makes her classroom feel like a second home.
“She’s like a second mom,” Porter said. “I can talk to her about anything.”
At the end of the year, the wife and mother said she hopes her students learn to believe in themselves.
“I want them to see how business works and teach them a good work ethic,” Chrisman said. “They can take that with them to college and on to the future.”
“She works really hard,” Nedab said. “She deserves some recognition.”