MANILA, AR (KAIT) – February's Teacher of the Month is a 27 year veteran early childhood development teacher. She's spent the last two years of her career teaching 2nd grade at Manila Elementary School. Ms. Cindy Smith, a native of Paragould, said she shares the honor of Teacher of the Month with her coworkers.
"When I found out that I was teacher of the month, of course I was extremely honored, but I just thought there are so many teachers that are equally as deserving. And I just share that honor with the teachers I've worked with, the teachers I work with now. We meet. We plan for these kids," said Smith.
Smith said academics have changed greatly over the years. When she first started, children only used pencils and paper during classroom instruction.
"It seems like each year, it gets a little more challenging. each year, a lot of things have changed over the past 27 years in teaching, but they're still kids and they still need us and I think they look up to their teachers," said Smith. "I'm starting to teach second generation now. Teaching kids of kids I've taught and that's exciting too."
Now, children use computers and other technology during the school day. Smith says her children have taught her a lot.
Smith says she's using her experience and continuing education to improve test scores as well.
"We're all the time signing up for workshops. We have required hours, but a lot of us, we exceed the hours because there's so much out there," said Smith. "We share ideas. If we're having trouble with a student, hey what works in your classroom? Teachers are unique. We all have a common goal and we want our students to succeed."
Smith was nominated Teacher of the Month for her assistance of a student with dyslexia. Last summer, Smith spent several hours with a student to help them get accustomed to the classroom setting. She said that child is now performing well in class.
With more expectations come new challenges.
"The curriculum has really been pushed down. The kids are expected to do more. The teachers are expected to do more. Performance is very, very high," said Smith. "If you don't have control of your classroom, then there's not a lot of learning going on. There's a difference between discipline and punishment and I think I'm more into the discipline. I want them to learn self control. I want them to respect themselves and others."