Staff evolution

Teacher Amy Smith discusses her new role at Oakwood

Amy+Smith+and+her+students+participate+in+a+charades+activity+during+fifth+period+in+Anatomy+and+Physiology.++Photo+by%3A+Cathleen+McLaughlin

Amy Smith and her students participate in a charades activity during fifth period in Anatomy and Physiology. Photo by: Cathleen McLaughlin

Cathleen McLaughlin, Writer

Amy Smith and her students participate in a charades activity during fifth period in Anatomy and Physiology.

In the early fall days of August, students begin to return to school and adjust to their new routines and schedules. As they return to a familiar place, new teachers are simultaneously introduced to Oakwood schools for the first time. After the retirement of science teacher Rob Guizzo at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, there was a vacant position in the science department waiting to be filled. This year, Amy Smith was hired to teach both biology and anatomy and physiology courses to grades nine through twelve.

Smith has been teaching for two years. Following her most recent year teaching at Springfield High School, Smith was drawn to Oakwood schools because of its academic standards and enthusiasm present in the student body.

“The kids were more rigorous with their academics and I really wanted to get into a school where I felt supported as a teacher and also where I could teach you guys the most,” Smith said. “The way that the students are excited to learn is always helpful as a teacher.”

Before deciding to be a teacher, Smith planned to major in forensic science. However, once she began assisting younger kids during her college years and experienced a role of leadership, she decided education was her true passion.

“I had to do a lot of service in college, it was part of my scholarship, and part of that was tutoring high schoolers and of course my specialty was science,” Smith said. “I realized I really enjoyed it.”

Smith’s passions for biology are not limited to the classroom. She often participates in activities directly tied to her areas of interest. Her hobbies outside of school include socializing and dabbling in art.

“I press flowers, so I like to dry them out and plant press them basically,” Smith said. “I like hiking and outdoorsy stuff and I like to read and hang out with my friends.”

To Smith, the small, tight-knit community of Oakwood and its inhabitants already feel like a proper fit and a home away from home.

“I came from a small town and you know seeing that love and everybody knows each other, that’s what I really wanted,” Smith said. “If I ever have a question or a problem I can always just get it solved.”

A teacher’s impact is often best reflected in the experience of their students. Olivia Steeves (10) is a student in Smith’s sixth-period Biology class. Steeves has had a pleasing experience with her science teacher and has found herself to be very compatible with Smith’s teaching style.

“We go into depth with things a lot and I feel really confident in that class,” Steeves said. “It’s just a very smooth teaching style. It feels very nice.”

Steeves appreciates Smith’s willingness to continually review a topic and not move forward until everyone understands it in the most depth possible. Science is not the easiest or favorite subject for Steeves, but she looks forward to the challenge posed every day by Smith’s class.

“I am not struggling with it,” Steeves said. “I’m enjoying this class so far and I really have fun most days.”

Gaining new knowledge about science is not the only important thing Steeves has taken from her biology class. Smith’s respect and high-standards for all her students contribute to Steeves’ continued admiration of her teacher.

“She just understands that we can act like adults in class,” Steeves said. “She treats us very maturely and I like not being treated like a child.”

On whether or not she would take another class with Smith, Steeves was certain in her answer.

“Absolutely,” Steeves said. “She’s one of my favorite science teachers for sure.”

Lainey Teeters (12) is a student in Smith’s fifth-period Anatomy and Physiology class. Teeters feels like she has already gained an extensive amount of knowledge because of Smith’s assignments and lectures.

“Her teaching style includes notes and fun projects,” Teeters said.

Smith stands out as an instructor to Teeters because she includes her own experiences into lessons everyday.

“She teaches us a lot of general information by telling us a lot of personal stories about what we are learning,” Teeters said.

For her first three months as a new teacher, Smith has been welcomed to the school and community by her students. Smith’s influence extends past the knowledge of her field and her perceived dedication gains her the admiration and respect of her students in return.