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Woodlands High School Educator Inspires Students and Reaps the Rewards

Ask any educator what makes a difference in a student’s life, and the answer most likely will be a love of teaching and a connection to students. When you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work at all. And if you spend just a few minutes with Kristy Rella, IB and Honors ELA teacher at Woodlands High School, you will see how true this rings.

In her 18 years of teaching, Ms. Rella has spent all of them in the Greenburgh Central School District. “It’s a blessing,” said Ms. Rella. “I am so grateful to have such thoughtful, engaged, and motivated students. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

One student, in particular, was so moved and appreciative of Ms. Rella’s guidance, that she took the initiative to nominate her as a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). This student, Jordan Acevedo (Class of ‘23), clearly valued Ms. Rella. “Ms. Rella is by far the best English teacher I have had. She made everything that we did in class not only make sense, but it was fun and exciting,” said Jordan. “She was always available to talk when needed. She gave valuable feedback on assignments and exams. She took the time to review my college essays and scholarship applications, so I felt confident about sending something that would get noticed.”

The distinction exemplifies excellence in educators who demonstrate passion and devotion in inspiring their students to grow and develop as scholars, leaders, and citizens. Formed in 2002 by James W. Lewis and Claes Nobel, a senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes, NSHSS is a distinguished academic honor society, committed to recognizing and serving the highest-achieving student scholars in more than 26,000 high schools across 170 countries. “I worked closely with Jordan in her last year at WHS both inside and outside the classroom, especially throughout the college process,” said Ms. Rella. “Knowing how much she had on her plate, I was blown away to learn that behind the scenes she was also taking the time to complete the NSHSS nomination process.”

While receiving the distinction this fall was a surprise to Ms. Rella, something that rarely ever surprises her are the students at Greenburgh. “Our students are extremely capable and versatile. Being part of a multicultural and diverse community supports that kind of ability,” said Ms. Rella. “And, as an IB district, that is crucial to the success of student achievement. Greenburgh students are open-minded, analytical, and proactive in worldly ways. I have learned a lot from my students; they truly inspire me everyday.” With this recognition, Ms. Rella will have opportunities that include professional development and grants provided by the NSHSS to further support her work as not just an educator, but with its global focus, specifically as an IB educator.


For Ms. Rella, being a teacher in the Greenburgh school district has come with many rewards. Her appreciation for a solid support system, including her mentor, WMHS Principal Matthew Smith, is clearly evident. “I am lucky to have such a great team to work alongside. It makes doing what I love to do even better,” said Ms. Rella. “ I never expected to get anything in return. Between my colleagues and my students, that alone is rewarding enough. This distinction is just the cherry on top.”