Position: Fourth Grade Teacher
School: Pioneer Elementary School
School District: Escondido Union School District
City, State: Escondido, CA
Gwen Smith was nominated by her colleague, Mary Courser.
Ms. Smith is amazing! She puts her heart and soul into all that she does in her classroom and school. She makes her classroom comfortable for all of her students. Ms. Smith spent her own money to design a great workspace for her students. She created the most awesome garden, all on her own! She maintains it and visits it during the summer, after a long drive to the school, to take care of the garden. Ms. Smith used Craigslist to secure donations for a gazebo, lounge chairs, tables, and chairs for all students at her elementary school.
This year, when the students were studying government, she invited the mayor of Escondido into her classroom. The students prepared intelligent questions to ask ahead of the visit. The students are showered with love daily. She makes sure all of her students feel safe. Ms. Smith eats lunch with her students daily so students who may not have anyone to eat with are comfortable. She also asked Home Depot to come to visit, and the students had a glorious time.
Ms. Smith changes students' lives. She works in an area where most students are free lunch students and in a low socioeconomic area. If she knows a student needs something, she will buy it herself, regardless of the cost. She is all about improving the lives of her students.
"I have been teaching for 20 years and have never known a better teacher. She deserves this more than anyone I have ever known," says Ms. Courser.
Sometimes, Ms. Smith, gets home very late because she is tending to the garden. She and her husband moved everything on their own, including all of the furniture and the gazebo for the garden. She is very positive and is an inspiration to everyone. Ms. Smith continues to educate herself and has volunteered for science training, professional development, and behavioral management training. She has her master's degree, but is in another program for administration because she sees a need for caring, ethical professionals in administrative positions. She is a LifeChanger, and her students can attest to that!