Teacher Spotlight: Chrysten Gregory, teaching criminal justice. 

January 26, 2021

Teacher Spotlight: Chrysten Gregory, teaching criminal justice. 

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, staff writer.

Teacher Spotlight is a presentation of Shelby State Bank, www.shelbystatebank.com with offices in Ludington, Pentwater, Shelby, Hart, Hesperia, Manistee, Montague, Whitehall, North Muskegon, and Fruitport. 

VICTORY TWP – Chrysten Gregory really enjoys being able to share her experience and knowledge with her students. The West Shore Educational Service District career and technical education teacher has only been teaching criminal justice for five years but has spent a much longer period in the field.

“I like working with students and helping them identify and achieve their goals was a significant motivating factor in going into education,” Gregory said. “CTE is all about sharing the knowledge and experiences gained in the workforce and through higher education.  The ability to help the next generation become excited about the many opportunities in the criminal justice field makes working in the field of education meaningful and exciting.”

A graduate of 1985 Olivet High School, Gregory didn’t first set out to college to become a teacher.

“I received an associate degree in law enforcement from Kellogg Community College in 1991,” she said. “I obtained a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in 1997 with a double major in criminal justice and psychology. I obtained a master’s of science degree in psychology with a concentration in additions from Purdue University Global, which I completed in 2019. In 2020, I also completed a master’s of science in criminal justice from Purdue University Global.”

One of the things Gregory really enjoys about the CTE criminal justice program is that it isn’t a traditional classroom setting at all times and it exposes students to real-life experiences in the field.

“I have been teaching criminal justice coursework at the West Shore ESD Career & Technical Education Center to high school juniors and seniors for five years,” she said. “Students receive instruction in courses that matriculate to college credits in introduction to criminal justice, introduction to corrections, criminology, and responding to medical emergencies.”

Prior to moving into the teaching position at CTE, Gregory worked in many different facets of the criminal justice system.

“Prior to this I worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC),” she said. “At the start of my career with the MDOC, I worked in the prison system and taught numerous programs to inmates who were nearing their release from prison. Programs ranged from substance abuse education, effective communication skills, pre-release/workforce development, parenting skills, and HIV/STD prevention education.”

Even though Gregory really enjoys sharing her work experience, working directly with students is her favorite part of the job.

“The students are the greatest part of education,” she said. “I get to see their excitement for helping people and their desire to make a positive difference in their community. I have the opportunity to help students figure out what they want to do after high school, which can be going on to college or entering the workforce. I have an unbelievable opportunity, every day, to watch our students grow, challenge themselves, and set goals for their future.”

Having spent active time in the field of criminal justice, Gregory stated that she wishes more people understand what all goes into the career choice and what those in criminal justice actually do day to day.

“I wish that there was a greater understanding of the challenges faced by criminal justice professionals in today’s environment,” she said. “These jobs are challenging and there is great personal sacrifice made by those who choose to protect and serve their community. Police and community members alike need to foster more positive relationships and develop a better understanding of each other, so that communities are safer and mutual respect is restored.”

Gregory advises any student who might be interested in any field that is offered at the CTE program to enroll to get some real experiences in those careers.

“Students who are considering education as profession should definitely enroll in the educator academy course at the CTE,” she said. “They will learn what it can be like to work in the education system. If you love working with kids, challenging them to be better, and to think outside the box, then becoming a teacher is for you. No matter, each person should follow their dreams, do what they love, and most of all what makes them happy.”

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