Deborah Smith has spent a majority of her 19-year career inside the walls of Vance Middle School, and she’s impacted thousands of young people in that time.
Mrs. Smith is an 8th-grade math teacher, overseeing nearly 100 students during the course of the day.
To Mrs. Smith, it’s more than just teaching concepts, which she says are as difficult as high school math when she first started nearly 20 years ago.
To her, teaching is about being a positive influence during these critical middle school years.
She says she’s learned a lot from the students, just like they’ve learned from her. She cites one year as a math intervention teacher as giving her a better understanding of each student’s math needs.
“Being able to reach out to a student who is overwhelmed and is shutting down and telling themselves ‘I can’t do this’ and to say, ‘You might not get all of it, you can get this part. You can do this.’ For them to feel that little bit of success makes them more willing to try the harder things,” said Smith.