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East High athletic coordinator, Northeast Magnet teacher, win Excellence in Public Service Award
East High athletic coordinator, Northeast Magnet teacher win Excellence in Public Service Award
Fredrick “Jay” Crayton, II, the athletic coordinator for East High School, and Cheryl Witt, Law and History Department chairperson and teacher at Northeast Magnet High School have been selected as Excellence in Public Service Award winners.
Now in its 33rd year, the award recognizes employees from the City of Wichita, Sedgwick County and Wichita Public Schools who exhibit the highest standard of service on the job and through their volunteerism.
The winners each receive $2,500.
Fredrick “Jay” Crayton, II
East High School
Jay Crayton, II, athletic coordinator at East High School, has taught in the Wichita Public Schools for 14 years.
Before moving to East at the beginning of the 21-22 school year, Crayton served as Gordon Parks Academy’s school’s athletic coordinator, head track and field and cross country coach. He found creative ways to engage students and encourage academic progress through sports. He implemented an athlete of the month program which celebrates student success in the classroom and on the playing field. Due to the school’s limited funding, in 2019 he applied for and received funding from the J.J. Wyatt Foundation to replace both girls and boys basketball uniforms.
He has been a basketball coach in the district for 13 years, including coaching students at Southeast and North High Schools.
Crayton’s passion for working with students goes back to his high school years when he volunteered as a breakfast buddy at Cloud Elementary, worked as a cooperative para educator at Curtis Middle School and with the YMCA after school program.
He serves as a mentor to other physical education teachers throughout the district and has helped organize several community events with the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team and T-Mobile.
Crayton is an active member of the Greater Pentecostal Church of God in Christ serving in several capacities including youth pastor. He has been a Hearth Room Christian Organization board member and scholarship coordinator, a team leader at the Seeds of Life Summer camp, a United Way contributor, a coach and coordinator for the Cole Aldrich Basketball Camp, and a Pyxis Behavior Link volunteer.
He volunteers his time with several professional and school-related organizations such as the Kansas Association for Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance, the Society for Health and Physical Education, the United States Tennis Association, Let’s Move Active Schools, Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet BAASE Club, Gordon Parks Academy Family Engagement Committee, L’Ouverture Computer Technology Magnet Elementary School Family Engagement Committee, Mighty Milers Running Club, YMCA Splash Program and the district’s Fresh Fruits and Vegetables program.
Like many teachers affected by the pandemic, Crayton rose to the occasion and showed resilience in providing relevant education experiences to his students. He embraced the situation and became virtual lesson expert demonstrating the ability to teach physical education skills and concepts virtually while still maintaining a strong classroom structure.
On his own time, during the pandemic he has volunteered with the Greater Ministerial League to deliver meals to the elderly citizens of our city.
Crayton is an extraordinarily selfless individual who is willing to do whatever needs to be done to accomplish a common goal and will stop what he is doing to help someone in need.
Law and History Department Chairperson and Teacher
Northeast Magnet High School
Cheryl Witt is a Law and History Department chairperson and teacher at Northeast Magnet High School with 26 years of service with the Wichita Public Schools.
In addition to being a truly inspirational and outstanding teacher who has been recognized as a Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award semi-finalist, Witt is also an excellent leader and proponent of service in her building. For several years she has served as the Law and History Department chairperson, where she has transformed the law program into one of the most successful magnet programs in the district.
Witt has been a lead teacher for social studies, an advanced placement vertical alignment team leader and a building work group leader for community and culture as well as the school’s Academics First policy. She frequently shares her expertise as a presenter at district inservice trainings and has participated in district committees focusing on grading, instruction, reading benchmarks and curriculum adoption.
What sets Witt apart from other good teachers is her desire to seek out additional learning opportunities on her own, often at her own expense. She has participated in seminars at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Bill of Rights Institute and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library.
Witt shares her passion for helping others by serving as the high school’s sponsor for the school’s student ambassadors, student council and National Honor Society chapter, and is the sponsor for the annual Washburn University Leadership Challenge Event, Close Up, Rachel’s Challenge, and the district’s Student Leadership summer and winter retreats. She has coordinated leadership activities such as Random Acts of Kindness Week, Red Ribbon Week, fall homecoming dances, teacher and staff appreciation week, student leadership week and the school’s talent show, as well as lead efforts in adopting needy families at the holidays,
Through her work with the school’s student council, Witt has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for the United Way of the Plains. Her efforts often outpaced the funds raised by much larger schools and, more than once, earned Northeast Magnet the distinction of having the most successful campaign in the district.
As service is one of the most important virtues to Witt, as the chairperson for the school’s law magnet program, she has created a requirement that students in the program must complete 100 hours of community service.
Outside of school, Witt, a deaconess at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, sponsored a spring break mission trip to Denver to serve at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter and low-income daycare center. She and her husband plan to raise funds for their church’s “sister” church in Zacapa, Guatemala. For the past several years, she has also worked with Thrivent Financial, her husband’s employer, to organize luncheons, events and seminars to help women become financially sound.
In 2019, Witt helped organize a fundraiser for her husband’s great niece who needed open heart surgery. Those efforts raised more than $10,000 to help offset medical costs not covered by insurance.
When the pandemic affected learning last year, Witt led the school’s National Honor Society chapter in participation in the “Kansas Beats the Virus” campaign which was created to encourage Kansans to find ways to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Northeast Magnet students created their own program called “Virus Bee Gone,” which partnered with five of the district’s elementary schools to deliver 300 care packages to families in need. Students came to the school on weekends to put together the care packages. Knowing that incoming freshmen wouldn’t have the opportunity for in-person orientation, Mrs. Witt and the school’s National Honor Society chapter coordinated an effort to create personalized, handwritten welcome cards and holiday cards for incoming freshmen.
Mrs. Witt created her own way to help those affected by the pandemic by creating care packages for Northeast Magnet families in need.
During her career, Mrs. Witt has won several district and state awards including the Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award, the Good Apple Award, faculty of the month, State of Kansas Teacher of Influence Award, National Society of High School Scholars Educators of Distinction award. She has been nominated for the Gilder Lehrman Outstanding Social Studies Teacher award, and the American Federation of Teachers Everyday Hero Award.
Crayton was nominated for the Excellence in Public Service award by Gordon Parks Academy principal LaTonia Kennedy. Witt was nominated by her co-worker Patty Stuever and Jardine Middle School (former Northeast Magnet) principal Matt Creasman.
Click here to read more about the Excellence in Public Service Award and to view prior recipients.
The winners will be honored at a reception later this fall.