WAYCROSS -- As a Navy pilot, William R. Cranshaw survived a
crash caused by faulty equipment. As a Navy commander, he taught
officers to break codes as a part of military intelligence.
But Cranshaw, 48, says his main goal in life was to teach kids.
After only four years, he already has made his mark at Waycross
Middle School. Cranshaw was chosen last month as one of 14
semifinalists for Georgia's Teacher of the Year Program.
"I suppose I'm a bit surprised, but I'm extremely honored,"
Cranshaw said. "To me, this is not Bill Cranshaw [being
honored], this is a school system and group of teachers that
have worked hard to do something. I'm just here at the front
The nominations for the award will be pared to four on April
15, and the winner will be announced May 9 in Atlanta.
Cranshaw's ideas have made him a central force in education at
his school. At the heart of his recognition is a program called
Cranshaw said the new teaching program was formed by teachers
"talking in the halls." Under the program, teachers have the
same students in all of the students' three years of middle
school to make sure they are prepared for high school. Cranshaw
said each student is evaluated at 18-week intervals, and if the
student has not progressed enough, he or she must repeat the 18
The school eventually will have the two-year-old program working
for all students and teachers. By next year, half the teachers,
12, will be involved, as will 300 students, Principal Robert T.
"The philosophy is that all children learn," Cranshaw said.
"The problem is they learn at different rates and different
times. We have to be willing to adjust for that."
And he said grades often do not reflect how well a student is
doing. For instance, Cranshaw said a student can fail in two of
math's four areas -- addition, subtraction, multiplication and
division -- but pass overall by scoring higher in the other two
"We have to take kids where they are and work with them there,
then try to get the grades to reflect the learning," Cranshaw
Bussey said Cranshaw, who retired from the Navy in 1991 after a
22-year career, is a special teacher because his only motivation
is his love of teaching.
"It wasn't something he had to do; it was something he wanted
to do," Bussey said. "You can tell he has a passion for it."
Students say they feel that passion.
"I think he's probably one of the best teachers I've had," said
Sarah Herrin, 12, a seventh-grader. …