The Purpose Driven Teacher

When I was named as a finalist for Louisiana State Teacher of the Year, I was able to hear Mrs. Kelly Stomps, the 2016 Teacher of the Year, speak on all the wonderful things she got to do and changes she was able to make for the students of Louisiana. As I listened to all those incredible things, I couldn’t help but wander how she was able to do all of it AND take care of the needs of her students. So I asked, and she responded saying that it was very difficult but you had to manage your time wisely and try to get a really good substitute to be consistent with your kids when you are out. I agreed and have taken her advice.

This school year is going to be tough but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I always give 100% at what I do and I plan to give my best work to my students and foster the needs of all students in our great state. This Tuesday, I was honored to be announced as the 2017 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). It was a ‘passing of the torch’ event where Kelly Stomps passed on the title and the responsibilities, along with great advice, might I add.

Our state is blessed with so many extraordinary educators so I am well aware of how special this title truly is. I have a purpose and I plan to give my BEST work!

So, let me tell you a little bit about my plans. I am currently working with my district on new teacher trainings and fostering their needs throughout the school year. I have several domains to my platform and I am focused on being as effective as possible when reaching all students across the state. So, with that in mind, I have created a task force that consist of the eight other Teacher of the Year finalists.
My platform is to refocus on at-risk students by meeting them at where they are and facilitating their learning through positive connections. There are several domains that I see a need for improvement as well. I plan to encourage parental involvement, engage students as community leaders, build positive classroom climates, rekindle a passion in burnt-out teachers, implement effective formative assessment and feed back into education to improve both teacher and student morale.
My philosophy of teaching has many parallels to the new Every Student Succeeds Act that was recently passed and the LDOE is rewriting science standards this year which I will play a key role in. Everything is falling into place for a small town science teacher to make a big change in education.
If you are a person of prayer, please continue to keep me in your prayers.
Thanks kindly,
Joni Smith
(Pictured below are Dr. Lurie Thomason, Joni Smith, and Kelly Stomps)



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