kristin holt

Kristin Holt, right, with Jackson County Public Schools Superintendent Dana Ayers.

By Dave Russell


Jackson County Early College science teacher Kristin Holt was recognized at the Oct. 26 Board of Education as an outstanding science teacher. It was not just the Board acknowledging her skills in the classroom.

The N.C. Science Teachers Association awarded her the District 8 Outstanding High School Science Teacher Award 2021 at its annual awards ceremony.

“The NCSTA District Outstanding Science Teacher award is given to a person exhibiting leadership in science education; contributing to improvements in science education; and excelling in the aspects of science education,” the association said in a release. “This honor is determined by Kristin Holt’s professional excellence and contributions to science education in North Carolina.”

District 8 consists of 15 counties from McDowell west.

Jackson County Public Schools Superintendent Dana Ayers presented Holt with her award at the meeting.

Ayers described Holt as a jack of all trades.

“Kristin has a bachelor’s in elementary education from Western Carolina University, also a masters in Academically or Intellectually Gifted from WCU, a licensure in elementary education, middle grades language arts and science and high school science and AIG,” Ayers told the board.

“I just want all students to be the best version of themselves that they can possibly be,” Holt said of her education philosophy. “Within that, I encourage students to become science advocates, not just for themselves or for the community but for communities beyond our own. Science is one of those topics where people are fearful of things they do not understand, so I charge every student with going out and educating their community and the public about issues in science, what science is and what is it not.”

She also emphasizes the scientific method and critical thinking, she said.

“One of the biggest things is giving the kids opportunities for hands-on activities and understanding that science is real world ideas and has a lot of real world applications,” she said.

Holt’s career in Jackson County Public Schools began at Fairview Elementary in 2005. She has taught at Cullowhee Valley, Smokey Mountain Elementary, Smoky Mountain High School and both Blue Ridge schools.

Holt is a Jackson County native, growing up in Whittier. She attended SMES for nine years and graduated from SMHS and went on to WCU.

Holt and her husband, Director of Testing and Accountability Adam Holt, have four children and live in the Caney Fork community. 

Her oldest graduated from SMHS and Western Carolina University, and she has two at Cullowhee Valley and one at SMHS.