Silver Apple Awards

3TV presents Silver Apple Award to Sierra Vista teacher

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3TV traveled to Sierra Vista to surprise Ken Smith, an 8th-grade teacher at Joyce Clark Middle School with the 3TV's Silver Apple award. Each year eight teachers are honored for their excellence in education. With this significant award, they are given a trophy and $500 to use in their classroom.

Ashlynn, a 14-year-old student, nominated Mr. Smith.  Ashlynn said that Mr. Smith, "trusts us with our work, lets us have freedom and is funny." She continues to say that, "one thing is for sure, he isn't in it for the money."  Mr. Smith's commitment to education and his students are just a few of the qualities we look for when selecting award recipients. "I really have become a better student and person because of him," states Ashlynn. 

Mr. Smith's Letter to 3TV

Dear 3TV Phoenix and Best Dental Care AZ,

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to share my gratitude for being recognized with the 3TV Silver Apple award. Truthfully, I have never been officially recognized for being a teacher; nor did I ever believe I would be. I feel extremely humbled that one of my students would go out of her way to nominate me and have so many kind things to say.

There are thousands of teachers in Arizona, all of whom give of themselves physically, emotionally, and intellectually every day, who deserve to be recognized for their excellence in education before me.Ironically, I grew up watching News Channel 3, and as a teenager I even had an opportunity to play a round of golf with several of your crew when 3TV presented the news from our local golf course.  I have to say, this was a memorable experience that has stuck with me all these years.

Since then, I became an educator and golf coach, and have had the opportunity to teach in various locations around the state. I now have the pleasure of living and teaching eighth grade science in the beautiful community of Sierra Vista. I became a teacher for selfish reasons.   I initially chose this career so that I could have ample time with my family.

After my youngest child started school, my wife and best friend, Jennifer, completed her teaching degree and I’ve had the privilege to be able to teach with her for over a decade. Getting to go to work each day with my sweetheart, and to teach and coach my own children, has been priceless.

One highlight about being an educator is the people I get to know; my students, their parents, and my coworkers.  I can’t express how special it is to be a part of so many people’s lives.  I look forward to getting to go to work each day because of the joy each of them bring into my life.  It’s funny, but I come home each day full of stories and experiences to share with my family about the things that happened in my classroom that day.

The real icing on the cake is when I bump into former students, now graduated and often with families of their own.  It’s extremely touching to be told how grateful they are for the impact I’ve had in their lives.  I don’t seem to remember most of the things that stood out to them, but these sweet experiences now make all the extra effort put into my work more than worth it.  Would I choose to be an educator if I could do it all over again?  You better believe it!  Being an educator is what I do.  It’s what I know.  It’s what I love.  Being an educator brings me so much happiness.

As far as strategies or best practices go, I really don’t do anything different than any other teacher I know.  I borrow ideas that I think would work for me and my group of students, and then implement them.  Some work, and some don’t.  I just keep trying new things until something really magical happens.

I model much of my daily practices from the teachings of Harry Wong, a master teacher who believes in making each student’s day just a little better for being in our classrooms.  I want my students to know how much I care about them.  I want their time at school to be the best part of their day.  I make it a point to greet each student individually at the door as they come in.  I usually throw in a knuckle bump, a high five, or some zany handshake as I make small talk with them.  Often this is returned with a smile and a witty comment.  I can tell instantly who may need a little extra TLC during instruction with this quick interaction.

I strive to make my classroom a place where students feel safe to speak up and go out on a limb with their answers.  I strive to help students develop critical thinking skills and deeper insight of not just my subject matter, but also the world around them.  When students know how information applies to them personally, they’re much more likely to internalize the information presented.
In closing, I would like to again express my sincere appreciation for the thoughtfulness of my student who wrote the magnificent essay nominating me, to 3TV Phoenix, and Best Dental Care AZ for the honor of receiving the 3TV Silver Apple award.

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