Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Greenville County Schools Superintendent Dr. Burke Royster announced the selection of Shelley Smith, a social studies teacher at Travelers Rest High, the 2018-19 Greenville County Teacher of the Year. Also announced were first runner-up Rick Schwartz, Introduction to Manufacturing Teacher at Greer High; second runner-up Matthew Boone, 7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher at Northwood Middle; and third runner-up Reem Alnatour, Third Grade Teacher, Fork Shoals School.
Finalists are Kristen Chambers, Second Grade, Plain Elementary; Katherine King,7th Grade Social Studies, Lakeview Middle; Steffanie Martin, Second Grade, Taylors Elementary; Molly Mosley, Third Grade, Brushy Creek Elementary; Corey Ramey, French, Wade Hampton High; and Sarah Smoke, English as a Second Language, Mitchell Road Elementary.
Shelley Smith, Social Studies, Travelers Rest High
2018-19 Greenville County Schools Teacher of the Year
Travelers Rest High Social Studies Teacher Shelley Smith carries a quote by John Quincy Adams with her everywhere she goes. It reads, “To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is…the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind.” Although she has only served the teaching profession for six years, Smith has made sharing knowledge a priority.
“As a lifelong learner, I have worked hard to improve my craft by staying abreast of best-practice strategies. I believe educators have the responsibility to better ourselves and to share our knowledge with students, as they are the ones who benefit from our collaboration,” she explained.
“My teaching style is group-oriented with the goal of not only teaching my students about social studies, but ultimately helping them in furnishing knowledge of their own,” she said.
Smith sees her students on the last leg of what she refers to as their ‘marathon.’ “They have trained all these years and are in front of their last obstacle,” she said. “The opportunities provided to them through Graduation Plus have paved the way to the finish line.”
With Graduation Plus, says Smith, students can consider a multitude of career fields before graduation. “By changing our approach to student success, more students look at education through a positive lens, making their way past graduation and ultimately to leading fulfilling lives,” she said.
Not only does Smith build community in the classroom, she shares her love of teaching beyond the classroom walls as a United States All Star Federation legality official and a former assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach. “One of the greatest rewards of volunteerism is knowing that just a few hours of your time will have a lasting impact on someone’s life. I am not just teaching them the skills of the sport, but the importance of teamwork, leadership, discipline, and perseverance that will be instilled in them for the rest of their lives.”
One of Smith’s greatest contributions to teaching is her commitment to mentor future and first year teachers. “I am currently working as a Master Teacher with Clemson University’s inaugural teacher residency program. I am actively working to revolutionize the student teaching experience with the hope of producing more qualified teachers, promoting higher teacher retention rates, and producing more confident, successful, and innovative teachers.”
Introduction to Manufacturing
Greer High School
“As a career education teacher, I incorporate the characteristics of a work environment into my classroom. I establish high expectations which emphasize and develop my students’ soft skills. If I am ever in doubt about my teaching style, I simply emulate the qualities of the best teachers I was fortunate enough to have – compassion, warmth, respect, and high expectations.”
Seventh Grade English Language Arts
Northwood Middle School
“Every May, I purchase a yearbook and have my students sign it. Reading the comments always touches my heart and proves the power of impact. ‘Thank you for being a big reason I loved seventh grade,’ one wrote. Recently, a high school senior contacted me and said, ‘I still talk about you to my English teachers, about how you taught me to look at life through a glass half full and not half empty.’ Impact is success.”
Fork Shoals School
“My commitment to foster a sense of family within the classroom is demonstrated by the way students collaborate and help each other. We have pen pals with a classroom in Alaska, perform poetry slams, and enjoy books read aloud by various guests through our Mystery Reader program. Meeting each student’s needs has been accomplished by offering flexible seating, incorporating differentiation through technology, and having lunch with individual students to set personal and academic goals.”
School Teachers of the Year
The process of selecting the ten finalists began last fall when schools and centers selected their individual Teachers of the Year. Applications were reviewed by a Screening Committee. Five judges then selected the Top Ten finalists and the District Teacher of the Year.
How Are the Finalists Chosen?
Each Top Ten candidate for Greenville County Teacher of the Year is judged on the nine areas included on the application form, a classroom visit, and an interview.
In the classroom, judges observe the teacher’s command of subject matter, classroom environment, communication skills, enthusiasm, creativity, and classroom management skills. During the interview, candidates are judged on his or her use of effective communication skills, organization of response, knowledge and command of subject matter, and substance and relevance of response.
The members of the Selection Committee were Wade Kolb, Wyche Law Firm and Rotary Club of Greenville; Dr. Betty McConaghy, retired school administrator; Shiree Turner Fowler, former Greenville County Schools Teacher of the Year; Bill Tyler, Chick-fil-A; and Dr. Phillip Wilder, Clemson University, higher education.
Special Thanks to Our Sponsors
Bank of Travelers Rest, BMW, Chick-fil-A, Cowart Awards, Expressions Unlimited, Greenville Federal Credit Union, Greenville Journal, Herff Jones Harold Waters & Associates, Joseph Carlton, LLC, Jostens, Michelin North America Inc., Papa John’s Pizza, Peace Center, Rotary Club of Greenville, Sam’s Club, Sprint.