Smith, the super educator: 30 years of teaching part 2


Morgan Hykin

World geography teacher Bev Smith will celebrate her 30th year teaching anniversary this fall.

Savannah Whitmer, News Editor

Social studies teacher Bev Smith has worked for 30 years now to mature into a teacher with qualities of both a mentor and an instructor. She plays important roles not just at the high school, but on a local and national level.

“I’d like to think I’m one of those people [with both qualities],” Smith said. “I don’t toot my own horn, so to speak, but I’m confident in what I know and what I do. I try to help others. I truly believe in the statement ‘it’s all about the kids.’ And they’re all our kids.”

For all of her efforts, Smith was rewarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award from HEB in 2012, given to only teachers in the state of Texas with more than 20 years of experience. In addition, both Smith and the school received 25,000 dollars each.

“It was a big deal, to win that award, it’s the whole state of Texas,” Smith said. “So when you have 40 or 50 thousand teachers also vying for the same position, they narrow it down to just, I think it’s 5 that they have, to bring to Austin and they interview, and from that interviewing they pick one. It’s a pretty awesome award. I was proud to represent educators, and to represent this district, because they nominated me.”

The award is for Smith’s dedication to her students and her excellence in teaching.

“That education is part of delivering that content and making sure I’m doing it in a way so that every student learns in their own best learning style,” Smith said. “And then it’s figuring out, well if that’s not the working for that student, then where is it I can connect with them to make that change.”

Smith’s students appreciate her experience and her passion for teaching.

“She’s is a really good teacher,” junior Nate Wutzke said. “She’s really dedicated to what she does, I think she’s the social studies head for Lovejoy, and personally I think she’s done a great job hiring all the teachers. I think she’s just a really good teacher overall. She cares about her students, and she’s dedicated to teaching.”

In 2012, after winning the HEB honor, Smith was awarded the opportunity to travel to Morocco for 16 days. Learning about the culture had a huge impact on Smith, and was a factor in her decision to take a group of students to Europe this year.

“It was an opportunity for us to get a different side of what being a Muslim is, and what being a Middle Easterner is, that we don’t get to see as Americans,” Smith said. “And what a really great way to do it. It was quite an experience. And that’s part of the reason why this year, I’ve decided to sponsor the Europe trip that’s being offered to students. Sort of a milestone for education for me, but also, I’m very into developing cultural awareness for students that live here.”

Her passion for education has spread both to local levels as the curriculum coordinator and to the national level as she works to make sure the importance of social studies is recognized in public education.

“I belong to the National Council for the Social Studies, I’m very active in our Texas council as well,” Smith said. “I’m very active in the National Social Studies Supervisors Association, where we work to lobby for social studies education with the national government, and the need for the support of social studies education. Because we’ve kind of become marginalized over the years, in terms of the requirements of what students should be graduating from high school with, in terms of social sciences.”

Smith’s efforts outside of the classroom mark her dedication to her students.

“I’ve done things where I speak on behalf of students and teachers at the legislative level,” Smith said. “I’ve gone before the gauntlet, and I’ve put myself out there, but it’s all because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I still feel that way. I’m very involved politically in terms of what happens in education in the state of Texas.”

In addition to acting on the behalf of her students and the social sciences, Smith works with teachers, even in other districts, helping to mentor and keep them accountable.

“So I tell anybody, it’s really tough because in the first 5 years of teaching, 50 percent of the people who started in the field leave it,” Smith said. “And that is not a good thing. There’s got to be a way that we can nurture and we can grow them into professionals, so that they want to stay.”

For Smith, finding a happy medium between being a mentor and an instructor has been a gradual improvement over the last 30 years.

“It doesn’t  happen overnight,” Smith said. “Teachers are not born. They are made. And first, your heart has to be in the right place. And then it’s the idea that I’ve got to perfect both of these to be the most effective I can be in the classroom.”