Travelers Rest High School social studies teacher named GCS Teacher of the Year

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Greenville County Schools Superintendent Dr. Burke Royster announced the selection of Shelley Smith, a social studies teacher at Travelers Rest High, as the 2018-19 Greenville County Teacher of the Year, it was announced on Wednesday.

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.

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"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.

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," she said.

The process of selecting the ten Teacher of the Year 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.

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. Also announced on Wednesday were first runner-up Rick Schwartz, Introduction to Manufacturing Teacher at Greer High; second runner-up Matthew Boone, seventh grade English language arts Teacher at Northwood Middle; and third runner-up Reem Alnatour, third grade teacher, Fork Shoals School.

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.


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