TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Donna Smith believes teaching is a calling from God

Published 11:11 am Saturday, January 20, 2024

Donna Smith is a teacher at Beechwood Elementary, where she has taught for 21 years.

Smith is a finalist for the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce’s Educator of the Year award. The Chamber will select and announce one elementary and one secondary teacher of the year at the Chamber Luncheon in February. The winner of each award will receive $1,000 from Ameristar Casino and the runner-ups for each award will receive $500 from Mutual Credit Union.

Smith firmly believes that all students are capable of learning. She keeps her students engaged by providing them with the proper resources. She offers them support and educational opportunities to excel in their learning.

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When asked how she connects her students to the world around them, Smith said, “We take virtual field trips. We then discuss these places and what they have learned from these field trips.” She also invites people from the community to come into her class and be guest lecturers.

Smith says she encourages student achievement through academic feedback (through assessments), promoting a positive classroom-behavior plan and using praise as a tool.

When asked about her most moving educational experience, she tells about a student who didn’t want to read. She says she asked the student what their interests were and found a book series about that interest. Needless to say, the student loved the book and read every book in that series.

Smith says teaching, for her, is a calling.

“I teach because that is what God wanted me to do,” Smith said.