LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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George Smith

Position: Retiring Agriscience Teacher/FFA Advisor
School: White Plains High School
School District: Calhoun County School District
City, State: Anniston, AL

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George Smith was nominated by Rachel Hollingsworth, his former student.

"When my high school journey began, I was a shy, quiet freshman who signed up for an agriculture elective. Little did I know that my ag teacher would have such a life-changing impact throughout the course of my high school career and beyond," said Hollingsworth.

At the beginning of every year, Mr. Smith taught a unit on the National FFA Organization portion of the agriscience class. As a part of that portion, his students were required to memorize and recite the FFA Creed in front of the class. The students didn't realize until much later that there is a rhyme and reason for even the most repulsive assignments, such as public speaking.

"Mr. Smith understands that public speaking is an invaluable skill for young adults to learn and carry into their future educational and career choices. Every student dreaded the thought of reciting the five-paragraph creed in front of their peers, but none more than me," said Hollingsworth. "I didn’t have any problems memorizing the paragraphs, but the issue for me came with the impending doom of public speaking. I did the daily paragraph with sweaty hands and a trembling voice. As soon as I was finished, I rushed back to my seat, glad to be done for the day. Fortunately for me, Mr. Smith saw the potential in me that I couldn’t see in myself."

"He encouraged me to compete in the FFA Creed Speaking Career Development Event," said Hollingsworth. "For this competition, students recite the full five-paragraph Creed. Then, they answer comprehensive questions from judges about the Creed itself and how it can be related to the daily lives of agriculturists. Through this competition, I won the Alabama State FFA Competition, competed at Nationals, and realized I wanted to become more involved in leadership and club activities. I was a Chapter officer for the next three years, served as the Central District vice president, and was selected to be on the State Officer Nominating Committee twice."

"Mr. Smith encouraged and coached me through every step," said Hollingsworth. "Due to his careful tutelage and nurturing of my passion for FFA and livestock judging, I discovered a passion for learning, leadership, and all things agriculture and animal sciences. I am now a senior in Animal Sciences at Auburn University with plans to pursue a master’s degree. It's all due to Mr. Smith's investment of time and support. That is the powerful impact Mr. Smith had on me, and I am only one student among thousands."

"Mr. Smith has taught his students invaluable life skills, and he has had a profound impact for the entirety of his forty-year career in education," said Hollingsworth. "If you do the math, that’s roughly one hundred students each year for forty years, which is an estimate of at least four thousand students who have been in my shoes and grown and developed into leaders and advocates for agriculture under Mr. Smith’s teaching."

While Mr. Smith is an amazing agriscience teacher and FFA Advisor, he is also a top-notch senior sponsor. Each year, Mr. Smith serves as a positive role model, source of wisdom, and pillar of guidance for seniors as they prepare to graduate and continue their education or join the workforce to become productive citizens who give back to their communities.

"I have fond memories of Mr. Smith helping seniors build their homecoming floats, being there for pep rallies, and supporting a fun, happy atmosphere at our school," said Hollingsworth. "He always has a kind word or a joke to brighten our days. There was always a smile on his face as he traversed the halls, monitored the lunchroom, and worked in the woodshop or greenhouse. His positive impact on students and faculty does not go unnoticed, and White Plains is lucky to have had him throughout the years."

Mr. Smith serves as a leader, not only at his school, but in his county and district. He helps coordinate and direct the Career Development Events and competitions for his school's FFA students, the five other FFA programs in his county, and throughout his district and state. Mr. Smith strives to maintain the extremely important ideals of fairness and good sportsmanship at the competitions while engaging in morale-boosting, good-natured ribbing and rivalry. He maintains a fun atmosphere at competitions and is always a good sport, whether it’s win, lose, or draw. He works with other Ag teachers to assist in leadership programs, such as Chapter Leadership Workshops and District Officer Leadership Conferences for students. Mr. Smith also raises funds for students to attend the Central District Eliminations, Alabama State Convention, and National Convention.

"Mr. Smith is one of the very best teachers I have ever had," said Hollingsworth. "As he retires, he is leaving an outstanding legacy of leadership, learning, and ethics. He has had a life-changing impact on countless students, both at White Plains, and across our district and state. Mr. Smith is an incredible teacher and mentor."

Comments (1)

Kassie Hollingsworth Posted over a year ago

Mr. Smith, We truly appreciate everything you did for our daughter when she was a student in your Ag Science classes & FFA program. You were a true Life Changer! The positive, encouraging and amazing opportunities you introduced her to through the agriculture/FFA pathway opened the door to her future. But more than that, you showed her that there was a strong & incredible young lady who could accomplish any goal she set with hard work and determination. Thank you for believing in her and helping her find her passion for Agriculture. She will graduate with her undergraduate degree in Animal Science. We are forever thankful for you! Deric & Kassie Hollingsworth