‘Teaching is my heart’: Family reflects on 75 combined years of teaching experience

Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 12:31 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 1:50 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As we celebrate Black History Month, meet a hero making a difference today in our community - Major Christal Corey.

“I am thrilled to announce that major Christal Corey is the RPS Teacher of the Year,” said Jason Kamras earlier this year.

She was nominated for her hard work at Franklin Military Academy and throughout RPS during the pandemic, developing online applications so students could learn at home.

“Everything I do is for my students, so I want to say thank you to you guys because teaching is my heart, it’s my passion, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t have you,” said Christal.

The greatness doesn’t just stop at her - it runs through her whole family, who combined have nearly 75 years of teaching experience.

“My role was to make sure that these children had access to education, so I’m that person that allows them to do what they do,” said Dr. Sonya Baines-Corey.

“You see what you pour into them, and now they’re taking the reins and are now pouring into others,” said David Corey.

Christal and her father, David, both teach at Franklin - Christal teaching science and her father teaching music for the past 31 years.

“As a teacher, you not only teach your subject content, but you’re teaching life skills,” said David.

Their family has a long line of educators. David’s mother and father both worked in education, but it wasn’t always the case.

“My great-grandmother wasn’t a sharecropper for nothing,” said Christal.

“My grandfather could not read or write, and my grandmother could only get an eighth-grade education,” said Sonya.

Christal’s mother, Dr. Sonya Baines-Corey, has also worked in education for the past 31 years. She is currently the Lead Health and Family Specialist for RPS.

“I don’t use the words ‘I have to go to work,’ I get to go to work. I get to serve these families every single day. I get to be a part of their lives. I get to make a difference. I get to speak life into their lives. That’s something I get to do, and I don’t take it for granted,” said Sonya.

Christal’s sister Lani is in her third year teaching dance at George Wythe High School.

“We as educators continually learn, and it helps us continue to pour out,” said Lani.

Major Corey is also proud that she teaches science, a field made up of only about 6% African Americans nationwide.

“It always looks like it’s always this certain type of person becoming a scientist. We were always there,” said Christal.

The Coreys are constantly striving to learn new things and are so proud of all of Christal’s achievements.

“It’s almost like that saying, don’t take this the wrong way, no child left behind - that’s for real for her. Not one child. She wants to see no child fail at all. She wants to see every child successful,” said Sonya.

Major Corey drew much of her inspiration to teach from watching her parents. She hopes she has the same effect on the next generation.

“Children cannot be what they don’t know exists,” said Christal.

The Coreys plan to continue their legacy in education and serving their community. Christal is advancing to the State Teacher of the Year competition. If she becomes a finalist, she’ll move on to Nationals.