Charles Criniere - the Minister of Math
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
A Legacy of a Spiritual Servant’s Love by Reggie Morris
It was a Sunday afternoon, in January of 2009, in the gym at Grandview High School, where God brought me together with Charles Crineire. At that time, I did not know the impact that Charles would have on my life or the students at Grandview High School. Charles served as a volunteer coach for one of our teams as we embarked on the start of the Grandview Basketball Association for grades 3-6.
I could tell immediately, from our first conversation, that Charles was a believer in Jesus and a servant of the Lord. His voice, his demeanor, and his swag all personified a spirit of gentleness, kindness, coolness, and love. He was genuine, captivating, and empowering. Charles was the person you always wanted to be around and were glad to see because he made things seem good and right when you were with him (and even when you left him). He had an “angelic” presence and spirit.
THE GHS BLESSING
The next school year, God blessed me and Grandview High School and the community by hiring Charles as a math teacher. He was literally hired on the spot. I still consider him one of the greatest hires in school history because of the spirit he brought to the building and how he helped to enhance the math department and the culture of Grandview High School.
With the help of Charles, we started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Grandview High School. We started a prayer group with students and local believers before school on Mondays (to start the week) and Fridays (to end the week). Once a month, members from local churches would come and bless and anoint the school building. We would walk the halls, walk around the building, and fervently pray. We also initiated 'See You at the Flag Pole' and 'Fields of Faith' spiritual events. It was through these spiritual efforts that at the end of basketball games, the student section started the “I BELIEVE WE WILL WIN chant! This belief was not only associated with the outcome of sporting events but also with students' faith when it came to dealing with issues and challenges in life.
Through the course of Charles’s time at Grandview and his work with FCA, I saw our students, school, and culture become richer because of Charles and his spiritual guidance and leadership.
THE MINISTER OF MATH
As a counselor, I would enroll struggling math students in Charles's classes. I had deemed him the “The Minister of Math." Charles had a unique way of teaching and making math the student's most challenging class, but also their favorite class. He was a master at motivating the most unengaged student to fight for their attention, to share his understanding of the math concepts, and get them to participate. Because even if they were wrong, Charles would praise them for their courage and desire to participate. They wanted to make Charles proud. You could often see Charles staying after school to counsel or tutor students, sometimes leaving Megan waiting patiently in the parking lot. It was Charles' devoted love and servanthood that made him so appreciated by his students.
One of my favorite stories of Charles as a math teacher was how he used the biblical story of Jesus feeding the 5000 people with five fish and two loaves of bread to build students' confidence in developing learning strategies for Algebra and Geometry. Charles stated,” I know a man who fed 5000 people with 5 fish and two loaves of bread, now that is some math! He can do the same for you.”
Charles stated,” I know a man who fed 5000 people with 5 fish and two loaves of bread, now that is some math! He can do the same for you.”
Charles left Grandview for 2 years and went and taught at Ruskin High School. During that time, I sensed his absence personally, and I sensed it in the building and among the students.
However, it was such a joy for me to have him return. Through the course of the 180-day school year, with a building of 1000 students and 85 staff members, there are so many spirits that you interact with that it can overwhelming. Charles and I reunited, and it breathed life back into me, back into our students, and into the school. It was during Charles's return that I had become the head basketball coach. I asked Charles to be on my staff, but because of his love for his family and Megan, he declined so that he could spend more time with them.
However, he would serve as our team chaplain, speaking and praying at our practices, retreats, and team dinners. Charles had a very unique way of taking his love for basketball and God and pouring it into our players whenever I needed him. I can truly say that Charles was very instrumental in our 2017-18 and 2018-19 team’s ability to capture back-to-back state championships, both of which are records in school history!
I can truly say that Charles was very instrumental in our team’s ability to capture back-to-back state championships, both of which are records in school history!
THE SPIRITUAL AMBASSADOR
It was a blessing to have a colleague who you can confide in and provide spiritual guidance. Charles always made himself available to students and staff. I cannot count how many times he would come and say, “We have to go and find this student or staff member and pray for them.” I like how he lived with the motto: 'Pray, every day, and at any time, and about anything.'
Pray, every day, and at any time, and about anything.
What made Charles Crinere special was his spirit, his love for God, family, community, and his passion to serve others. I have never met a person whose heart was so “spiritually” huge. He loved and cared for others and wanted them to know the God that he loved and served without expecting anything in return. Charles wanted everyone to know their heavenly father and understand the love that He had for them.
So what can we learn from the legacy and life of Charles Crinere? Love God, and let God love you! Share God’s love through your smile, spirit, relationships, talents, and skills, and let it serve as your drive and passion for life.
I have been tremendously blessed to have had Charles in my life. I consider him one of God’s greatest gifts to me. Some gifts get old and outdated, but Charles’s life and our time together will be forever eternal. It will always be the fire that will inspire me to carry on his legacy as a man of God, husband, father, educator, and coach, and most importantly, as a spiritual ambassador of Christ! Thank you, Charles Crinere!
- Reggie Morris