-Enjoy Coach O'Connor-Smith's response to the question posed by this year's TOTY panel:
What makes you an exemplary teacher?
As a Physical Education instructor, my mission is to expose every child to a healthy lifestyle that is characterized by fitness, physical activities and appropriate health behaviors. I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and a stimulating learning environment in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. I believe that I am an exemplary teacher in the classroom because I provide an opportunity for every child to develop health related fitness, physical competence in movement activities and cognitive understanding. Furthermore, my program provides a learning experience that meet a student’s developmental needs and improve his/her academic performance and enthusiasm for learning. I am a teacher who consistently draws on a variety of researched based learning strategies to maximize student learning and social skills. My lessons are designed to enhance my student’s knowledge base and are consistently guided by an instructional framework that aligns curriculum and assessment. Technology is used to creatively support those researched based practices that motivate students to higher levels of learning. Within my classroom, I consistently emphasize and encourage all students to use critical thinking skills that lead to deeper understandings. Students are given different roles during instructional activities to help improve their leadership abilities.
As a teacher leader, I served as a Direct Instruction Coach for Reading for three years. In this capacity, I taught direct instruction classes, assisted with the analysis of student data, facilitated teacher trainings and conducted school-wide focus walks. Additionally, in my role as Department Chair for Connections, I organize meetings, monitor to ensure that all teachers within the department adhere to design team expectations and are held accountable.
For the last five years, I have also served in the capacity of Athletic Director. I manage approximately 150 athletes, 9 coaches and countless parents every season which includes: football, girl’s and boys’ basketball, cheerleading, soft ball, girl’s and boy’s track and field, girl’s soccer and boy’s baseball. As A.D., it is my responsibility to ensure that each athlete meets the requirements for grades and discipline as required by the district and that the athletic program operates in compliance. This means that I sign off on each athlete’s report card, as well as ensure that all coaches are AED and CPR certified bi-annually. Furthermore, I also track and monitor all budgets related to each sport within the athletic department, and am responsible for all inventories and equipment each season. As Athletic Director I organize homecoming celebrations year end athletic banquets and pep rally events to boost student and teacher morale. Lastly, I support and attend 90% of ALL sporting events as it pertains to Jean Childs Young Middle School.
Beyond the classroom, as a concerned teacher within my school community, I have organized the “Biggest Loser” weight loss initiative for faculty members, “Work It Out Wednesday” for teachers and parents wanting to maintain their fitness, and the “Thick Chick Club” which is targeted to fight obesity among teenage girls. In addition to those endeavors, I also wrote a grant for “Fuel Up To Play 60” for which Jean Childs Young Middle School received funding. This grant allowed the athletic department to implement a wellness program focused on healthy eating and also incorporated cooking demonstrations as well as self-defense classes for our students. Last but not least, I have also helped to organize the ING Marathon for the APS district as well as our own school initiative.
In conclusion, I am dedicated to my students and I care about my school and the community. Providing a safe, secure and stimulating learning environment will always be my lifelong mission. This is why I feel that I am an exemplary teacher.