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2013 Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching Winner

Michelle D. Smith, 4th Grade Math Teacher, Drew Elementary School

Michelle Smith3

Michelle Smith, a former student at Marie Reed Elementary, has spent the past 19 years teaching elementary students in Washington, D.C. “I love the students of DCPS,” she marvels, “because every class I have ever had has met or exceeded my expectations year after year.” Mrs. Smith attributes this success to her inclination to celebrate all successes, big and small. “I want my students to know that at least one person believes in them, and that the sky is the limit.” Mrs. Smith’s former principal at Browne Education Campus, Na’imah Salahuddin, shares, “She is data-driven, and can tell you the strengths and areas of development for all of her students at any moment. Beyond this, she grew student achievement from two proficient students to 16 proficient and advanced children.” For Mrs. Smith, the best reward for her as a teacher is “the look of determination in my students’ eyes as they move on to the next grade.”

Mrs. Smith especially likes to hear from her colleagues that her students are ready when they come to them the following year, and she has dedicated herself to collaborating with her school’s faculty to ensure that their educational progress continues. She has served on her school’s Personnel Committee, Teacher/Admin Team, IB Steering Committee, and PTA. Last year, Mrs. Smith was awarded a grant to open a teacher resource room, named the Apple Grove, at Browne Education Campus, providing teachers with games, manipulatives, activities, and ideas to enhance mathematics and reading instruction. She feels like her classroom success comes naturally. “I think that teaching is my gift,” she explains. “I always knew I would be a teacher.”