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Driven Principal

Louisiana Principal Kim Crosby knows race cars rev the engines of her teenage students, so she uses her own experience behind the wheel to teach them how academics are applied in real life.

Just last month, Ms. Crosby was licensed to race by NASCAR, making her one of its few female competitors. She is now eligible to enter 34 competitions this year, many of which are paid for by local sponsors.

The 39-year-old racer routinely brings her dragsters to Slidell Junior High School, near New Orleans, for a show-and-tell that includes lessons on circumference, radius, decimals, and combustion.

Ms. Crosby adds that her 190-mph avocation opens the door to conversations with students. "It is really a great tool for me to teach kids that math, science, and social studies can be used for anything you choose to do in life," she said.

Slidell student Sarah Folkins said she's been inspired by her principal to venture out and try new roles not limited by gender stereotypes.

"When I found out, I was totally shocked and, like, amazed," the 13-year-old said of Ms. Crosby's involvement in the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. "She is one of the coolest people."

With a status like that, the student added, the principal has little trouble with discipline. "Nobody messes with Ms. Crosby," she said.

The principal, a longtime drag racer, has loved cars since she was a young teenager herself. Her father was a car junkie, and Ms. Crosby followed his lead, obsessing about wax jobs and transmissions.

It made sense, then, that she would ultimately marry a man who was into the sport. She served as his pit crew for five years and attended racing school, where she eventually became an instructor.

Despite the lure of the track, the principal said she won't be leaving her day job anytime soon.

The adrenaline of the sport is addictive, Ms. Crosby noted, but "the ultimate thrill for me is seeing the kids meet their dreams and goals."

—Julie Blair

Vol. 23, Issue 24, Page 3

Published in Print: February 25, 2004, as Take Note

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