Dr. Suzonne Crockett has a heart to serve students, community

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

By Ginger Broomes

The Orange Leader

Suzonne Crockett knew in the third grade that she wanted to be a teacher, but, just out of high school, she got married and had four children, taking a state job in her home state of Louisiana, helping people get healthcare. And although she said the job was very rewarding, she felt a calling to do more.

In the early 90’s, Crockett said the Lord opened a door. Her husband Ronnie, a pastor, received a job at Mount Olive church in Orange and the family moved here. She also started classes at Lamar working on her Associates Degree, then her Bachelors.

Even with four children at home, she continued her education at Lamar, then Sam Houston, eventually getting her Master’s in Education Administration.

Crockett recalled that third grade teacher who inspired her.

“Ms. Dawanna Cox was my teacher in third grade at Lakeside Elementary, in Pineville (Louisiana),” Crockett said. “She turned on the light for the zeal for learning. She made me want to learn. Pay it forward.”

So, she started teaching 9th grade algebra, the same subject she herself had failed at that age.

“I wanted to help people who struggle with math because I did,” Crockett said. “My high school was tough because it was on the heels of integration. A lot of that was variables. But you don’t allow those variables to stop you from achieving your dreams.”

“I became the ‘kindergarten math teacher’, is what they called me,” Crockett said of her 9th grade class. “And the reason that they called me that was because, in high school you don’t see a lot of bulletin boards, but in my classroom when you walked in, a big sign would say ‘welcome to the wonderful world of mathematics’. And there were BRIGHT colorful bulletin boards everywhere.”

“English, History has a lot of warm fuzzy stuff. Your chemistry teachers have experiments to keep you occupied,” Crockett said. “I did not want you to have a worksheet in my class, I wanted you to have manipulatives to work with; so that’s why I created bulletin boards and they worked.”

In 2004, she started working at Lamar State College-Orange. Three years ago, she was named the Director of Mathematics, Education and Leisure Learning.

“My passion is helping under-prepared students prepare. We take the students where they are and bring them to where they need to be that’s what Developmental Education is,” Crockett said. “It’s helping students reach their dreams of higher education because they’re so intimidated by mathematics. And they have a dream of getting a degree. So Developmental Education can be a hurdle for them, but I teach them to jump those hurdles. And that has been the most rewarding thing in my career, seeing a person achieve their dream of higher education.”

And when a student from her teaching days recognizes her at Lamar, that’s the icing on the cake.

“That says you did a good job,” Crockett said.

In addition, Crockett created the Kids 2 College day camp for children aged nine to 14. She said the program is a way for kids to fall in love with learning, and have the same zeal for learning that she had as a child. The camp is her passion, a way to get kids off the cell phones and tablets and out “into the green”.

“You need to learn to talk to people, walk in the grass,” Crockett said. “Work with clay, sing our national anthem. Paint. A little bit of everything. We teach Pharmacy Technology in the lab. Biology. Fun learning. And I wanted it to be 8 to 5 so the parent doesn’t have to take off work. Working people need a break and their kids deserve a good quality camp.”

When she’s not helping students prepare for higher education, Crockett is working alongside her husband with his congregation at Mount Olive, and is also on the Greater Orange Area Chamber Board of Directors, a great organization, she said, that strives to keep people shopping local.

“I love the city of Orange. Being a support for our local officials. When we had Harvey, I worked side by side with my husband to pass out items,” Crockett said. “I like to get to know people and connect.”

She especially loves Lutcher Theater, and said that even the shows she’s seen in New York cannot compare. And the Stark Museum and Shangri-La are treasures.

Not only is she the wife of a pastor, but she was the daughter of one as well.

Of her faith, Crockett said, “I’m in the world but not of this world. I work for Lamar. My job is to support my department. Since I have a servant heart and spirit, my job is easy, wonderful. I’m here to serve.”

“When students ask me ‘How did you make it?’ I will say, I’ve been in developmental math, I struggled, I had four children and I worked, and an ailing mother and a husband and a congregation, I needed time management skills,” she said. “I know what it’s like to have to buy a $300 math book and I’m like where is this money going to come from? And then I look up and God opens up the windows and blessed me.”

And Crockett knows about time management. On May 12, she concluded her educational journey when she accepted her Doctorate in Developmental Education Administration at Sam Houston University.

Her husband, Ronnie, is very proud of her.

“She’s extremely determined,” Ronnie Crockett said. “She challenges people to reach beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary.”

“To whom much is given, much is required,” Suzonne Crockett said. “The more degrees I seek is not for me. It’s the responsibility of reaching others and passing the knowledge onto others. “

The Kids 2 College day camp is June 25 through the 28, with lunch provided. Cost is $55. To sign up, contact Krystal Loft at 409-882-3053 or krystal.loft@lsco.edu. You can also pick up a form at the new Cypress Center on the Lamar-Orange campus. Volunteers are needed and scholarships for the $55 are accepted if you wish to donate.