“As teachers, we plant seeds. We have a pitcher to water them so they will grow. At the end of the school year, we hand that pitcher off to the next teacher.”
It is fitting that Gerald Smith chose these words to describe the role he and his colleagues play in the personal development of students at St. Thomas More Academy. He is, after all, the middle school science teacher and has a degree in Biology.
Mr. Smith is a native Washingtonian. After graduating from Eastern High School, he travelled to Louisiana to attend Xavier University. After graduation, Mr. Smith returned to the District connected with the TAP (The System for Teacher and Student Advancement) Program for a summer teaching position at a local school. The school, as luck would have it, was St. Thomas More in Ward 8. Once there, Mr. Smith met principal Bridget Coates who immediately recognized the positive impact he could have on the school community. Ms. Coates recalls:
“This summer I met a hugely talented science teacher who inquired about available positions in the school. After viewing his interactions with students and seeing his passion for what he was doing I knew that I had to have him here.”
Mr. Smith describes the teaching staff at St. Thomas More Academy as “a tight knit team that works well together." They strive to create an environment that is supportive, caring and offers consistency. The teacher-student relationship is one where, as Mr. Smith says, “we try to meet each other half way.”
Faith plays an important role in the lives of students at the school. Mr. Smith recalls a recent request from a student to pray for him during a week of standardized testing. He and the student talked about how everything happens for a reason and how God has a plan for each of us.
Mr. Smith says he has learned a lot about himself this year and through his students, sees “the possibility for what can be.”