2017 - Houston Cruse

Houston Cruse and Denise Skaggs

Talk to 2017 LaRue County ExCEL recipient Houston Cruse, and you’ll find out how important family has been, not only to his becoming a teacher, but also to his continuing in that profession.

“My family has always been a wonderful influence on my life,” said the advanced placement world history and world civilization teacher at LaRue County High School. “From the time I was of a young age, both of my parents constantly explained that money and prestige should never be a deciding factor concerning an occupational choice. Both of them always pushed me to do what I love, regardless of the situation.”

His parents, he continued, believe that if one cares about what he does, then he will have a positive impact on both family and society as a whole.

“I truly could not ask for better parents, and their tutelage and guidance eventually helped lead me to the education field,” he stated.

That field also introduced him to another family, his colleagues, who he said share in the honor bestowed on him.

“This is a distinguished honor and a testament to the many great things going on in the LaRue County School District,” noted Cruse. “I work with a tremendous faculty that is closer to being family members than coworkers. The respect and admiration I have for everyone in the district makes this award incredibly gratifying.”This year's finalists: Bryan Hurst (LCMS), Penny Akers (ALES), award recipient Huston Cruse (LCHS) and Laura Evans (HES).

Educators have an opportunity to have a profound effect on others around them, according to Cruse.

“However, it’s not just about teachers; it is about every individual in the local area working to make this a better place to live,” the 12-year-veteran teacher observed. “As a young child I was able to have many mentors that helped me become the person I am today. My job as an adult is to consistently find ways to help my community become a welcoming atmosphere to raise children. Too often, adults forget building a positive environment for our children to grow up in should always be our most important objective.”

He considers social studies to be not just a retelling of past events, but “an evolutionary organism that constantly focuses on humanity’s impact on the earth.”

“Consistently reminding students that history can teach us about ourselves, and the world around us is important toward guiding them into adulthood,” he noted. “As we have stepped into the 21st century, social studies has started to shift with a primary emphasis on teaching students content-specific learning skills. At LaRue County Schools, we are constantly working toward helping students become self-directed learners so they can effectively matriculate into college and the workforce.”

Cruse’s wife Kim is a teacher at Creekside Elementary. The couple has three boys – Xavier, 5, Tyson, 3, and Jaxon, 7 months.

“Family will always be the most important thing to me, and my wife and boys are the joy of my life,” he offered. “I wake up happy every day knowing I get to come home to them in the afternoon. I truly cherish the opportunity to know that I am positively impacting the county that my family calls home.”

At a ceremony Nov. 15 at Hodgenville Woman’s Club, LaRue County Schools superintendent Sam Sanders announced Cruse as the ExCEL winner while each respective school principal presented finalist awards to Penny Akers, Abraham Lincoln Elementary; Laura Evans, Hodgenville Elementary; and Bryan Hurst, LaRue County Middle.

Representatives from WHAS TV and LG&E, the award sponsors, will come to LaRue County High School Jan. 11 for an ExCEL ceremony.