Mathematics and photography teacher Cottonwood Middle School

Cristin Combs teaches both mathematics and photography at Cottonwood Middle School. (Photo by Bill Helm)

Cristin Combs teaches both mathematics and photography at Cottonwood Middle School. (Photo by Bill Helm)

COTTONWOOD – With both sides of her brain fully engaged, Cristin Combs teaches both mathematics and photography at Cottonwood Middle School.

A year ago, Cottonwood Middle School Principal Matt Schumacher recommended Combs for Yavapai County Teacher of the Year.

In his letter to the Yavapai County Education Foundation, Schumacher called Combs a “student-centered lifelong learner.”

“She is willing to leave safe harbor, cast away old anchors, and constantly redefine her destination to best suit the changing winds of Yavapai County students,” Schumacher wrote. “She defines learner-centered education and is the type of person we need to transform public education in Arizona.”

Back in high school, Combs first realized she wanted to remain in the classroom as an educator.

Had she not become a teacher, Combs said she probably would have gone into criminal psychology.

“I am so intrigued by why people do what they do,” Combs said.


“I love using groups in my class. Each student in the group has a specific job and role to play to ensure that the group is functioning appropriately. Within these groups, students are practicing self-management skills as well as how to work appropriately with all types of students, behaviors and learning styles. It is essential to allow students to practice these real world skills in a safe learning environment if they are expected to master these skills for future use.”


Yavapai County First Year Teacher of the Year Nominee during the 2014-2015 school year. 

Nominated for the 2016-2017 school year Yavapai County Teacher of the Year.


“I truly believe if students feel supported, loved and encouraged that they are able to accomplish anything. Of course, they have to do their part, but they will be more willing to do so if they know that you have their backs every step of the way. 

“Capturing Kids Hearts has taught me, “If you have a child’s heart, you have a child’s mind.” I try to live by this quote each day because teaching is a lifestyle and a state of mind.”


Combs waited until she was 25 years old “before I went to college to begin my path to become an educator. I had been out of school for so long that I tested into a math class that did not count towards my degree.

“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it was where I fell in love with mathematics.”


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