By Don Lowe

As a relatively new member of the Carl Junction School District, it didn’t take long for Craig Fox to make a positive impression on those around him, as evidenced by his recent honor of being named Teacher of the Year. 

Fox, who taught seventh grade science for two years before opting to teach a more hands-on science-/technology-based class in 2023-24, never envisioned such a special recognition. “I did not know about the Teacher of the Year award for the district until the ceremony. 

“The award was completely unexpected. I was just enjoying a nice meal and great conversation at our table (when he found out). The other teachers who stood there with me are amazing educators, and I was just happy to be in their presence.” 

While Fox has found his calling now, he says, “I was an education major out of high school, but after a year at School of the Ozarks and having a discussion with an older sister who had a teaching degree, I felt it wasn’t the right path for me at the time. 

“I went into the radiology field, where I served as a department head at hospitals in Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma for about 12 years.” 

Fox then went a different direction. “During that same time, my family owned and operated several small video game stores. An opportunity presented itself to invest in our chain of stores. I got out of the medical field to pursue a small business.” 

Eventually, Fox veered back to his original plan, and he says, “We owned (video game) stores for about 15 years, but when the opportunity became available to sell them, I did. 

“Upon selling the stores, I had the opportunity to go back and finish my education. After graduating, I was hired at Riverton (Kansas) Middle School, where I taught sixth–eighth grade science. I also coached high school basketball and softball, and middle school basketball.” 

When Fox was at Riverton, he says, “The opportunity at Carl Junction Junior High 

School became available and I applied for it. I was fortunate enough to be hired.” 

At Carl Junction, Fox is currently head coach of the high school boys’ and girls’ tennis teams, as well as head coach of the junior high boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. He also previously served as a junior high track coach.

Fox enjoys his dual roles of teacher and coach, and he says, “The thing I love about teaching and coaching is the ability to develop relationships with students and my fellow educators. 

“Another thing I love about teaching is being able to catch up with students that I have taught in the past and following the progress in their educational journeys. Every day is a new adventure. I truly can’t wait to get to work each morning.”

Fox is appreciative of his achievements considering his personal journey. “I felt that going back to college at my age put me in a unique and beneficial position. I knew exactly what my goals were and was able to focus on what needed to be done. 

“Although my path to teaching and coaching wasn’t typical, I believe it’s what helped me become a better teacher due to all the life lessons along the way. I’ve learned so much from current and past administrators along with fellow educators, and I’m forever grateful for their guidance.”

Carl Junction Junior High Teacher of the Year Craig Fox Fast Facts

Age: 54

Spouse: Debbie Fox 

Children: Natalie Cooper, Ashley Hansen and Mason Fox 

Hometown: Stratton, Colorado 

High School Alma Mater: Stratton (Colorado) High School 

College Alma Mater: Missouri Southern State University, 2019 

College Degree: Middle school education with an emphasis in science 

Teaching/Coaching Career: Fifth year teaching and third at Carl Junction Junior High School 

Favorite Food: “Anything my wife makes.” 

Role Models: “The people who influenced me most in my career path were my parents, Jerome and Janis. My dad was a teacher at St. Charles Catholic School for a couple years, and my mom was a special education paraprofessional at the school where I graduated. The other main influence has been my wife, Debbie, who encouraged me to pursue my teaching and coaching dream.”