High School Teacher of the Year



Degrees and Certifications:

Ms. Theresa Smith

Theresa Smith began her career in the Yonkers Public Schools in 1995 at the Enrico Fermi School, teaching grades 4 and 5. In 2008, she transferred to Saunders Trades & Technical High School, teaching Earth Science and in 2009 moved to Lincoln High School, currently teaching 9th grade Science. Principal Ian Sherman endorsed the nomination.

Ms. Smith is a Class of 1983 Gorton High School graduate who was in the top 20 of the class. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from SUNY Oneonta, a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Iona College and Science certification from Empire College. Ms. Smith is a New York State Master Teacher in Living Environment and Integrated Science and a National Board Certified Teacher in Science/Adolescence and Young Adulthood. 

Throughout her nomination form, Ms. Smith notes her participation in professional development (PD) work to improve student outcomes. They included District sponsored SupportEd's - Plan to Support Ninth Grade Teachers in Developing ELLs' Language and Literacy in the Content Areas and WestEd's – English as a New Language Summer Institute as well as Science Teachers Association of New York State workshops that focused on the new New York State Next Generation Science Standards. At Lincoln, Ms. Smith is the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) liaison who supports her colleagues with the school's 9th grade program to monitor student success through weekly meetings and PD; since the program’s implementation there has been an increase in the graduation rates. In addition, she facilitates cross-curricular teaching opportunities such as Scientists, Writers and Poets from the Past, where students research a notable person, create an epitaph and design a tombstone that reflects what that person contributed to their field. This becomes a schoolwide opportunity for learning when the tombstones are displayed in the hallway during the week of Halloween. 

In her philosophy statement, Ms. Smith wrote, “all children can learn, but each one learns in their own way at their own pace. I try to organize my lessons to touch upon all the various learning styles (auditory, tactile, visual, logical) so that I am engaging all the students. When the students are having difficulty understanding topics, I use as many different resources as necessary: video clips, song references, illustrations, peer discussions.” For English Language Learners, she uses pictures and “ask for help from other (students) who speak the language… Another method I use while I teach is to make sure that every child feels safe. I have memories from my own high school days where teachers embarrassed students in front of their peers, thinking this would make them learn. This could not be farther from the truth! I show the students my weaknesses, like not being able to draw or solve math equations quickly. When they realize that I have flaws like them, they are more willing to trust me, they attend class regularly, and are successful. I also realize that students cannot learn when they are hungry, so whenever I can, I involve food in my lessons.”

When asked what she liked most about her job, Ms. Smith answered, “I LOVE my students! Everyday is a new adventure with them. I enjoy listening to their stories and watching them help each other… I still get excited when students have that “A-Ha” moment when they finally understand that difficult concept.”

Theresa and Dan Smith, a retired Yonkers Police Officer, were raised in Yonkers and have two children; Helen in her first year at Pace University Law School and Daniel, a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College.