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Smedley was recently named Sharyland independent School District’s Secondary Teacher of the Year.
Growing up, Smedly witnessed the influence her mother made in the lives of her students. She also saw the rewards her mother received.
Her parents gave her the foundation she needed to be successful and the confidence to lead by example, she said.
In her college years she began volunteering, helping coach junior high basketball and track at a local school.
Fresh out of college she landed a job, what she thought was her dream job as an educator in Michigan. The job came with a stipulation of the passage of a school-financing bill. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass. She went back home to rural Michigan and began substituting, still wanting a place to call her own.
When she received a call for her job, she said it was the biggest decision in her life; it was a move to Texas. Her first full-time teaching job began in New Caney teaching science.
Smedley believes that her 34 years of teaching have been a dream come true. She said her rewards have not been monetary, but through words shared by her students. A simple “thank you” for caring or being a good teacher has been her reward.
She said accomplishments come from student successes. In their success, she sees her success as a teacher. She sees when the light bulb turns on in a students mind, the excitement in their faces, the trust shown when they ask for letters of recommendation, and the confidence they have in her when they ask for help in calling a university.
Smedley considers herself a nurturing person. She has been a part of parent-teacher organizations, youth athletic programs, sponsored programs, tutored students and mentored other teachers. She has volunteered at a nursing home, helped groups with fund raising, helped with toy and food drives and raised funds for cancer and diabetes awareness.
She said the rewards received from helping others is immeasurable, whether that helps is in teaching, volunteering or just providing a helping hand.
“You reap what you sow,” said Smedley.
Smedley said there are many methods of teaching, but it is important to find out what works for the teachers and the students. Teaching should be adaptable depending on the students to benefit them and encourage learning. Establishing a good rapport, treating students with respect and fairness are also important.
In teaching, she tries to incorporate the three learning styles – auditory, visual and kinesthetic. This way, she reaches to every student. She teaches her students to responsible for their own actions and to lead by example, as well.
While there are several issues she thinks faces students today, she said teaching the value of education is important. Peer pressure, home life and an attitude all play a part in how a student feels about education. She likes to teach the complacent student how an education will open up many avenues for them.
Smedley said the way a teacher teaches, or instills a lesson, determines a student’s success or failure in education. Teachers must remember how important their roles are in a student’s life. Teachers should take advantage of teaching opportunities, and students should take advantage of all of the education they can get to prepare them for their future.
“Teachers are the difference,” said Smedley. “We make the future.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.