In a resolution read before the Virginia Board of Education, Margaret A. "Meg" Smith, a 17-year veteran teacher, was named the 2012 Virginia Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Smith is a "beacon of excellence," said Superintendent of Public Instruction, Patricia I. Wright. "Her commitment and her passion for what she teaches is a shining example of the difference a teacher can make in the lives of students every day."
Mrs. Smith is an eighth-grade English literature teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School for Innovation in Lynchburg City Public Schools. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Art History from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Education degree with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction and a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Lynchburg College.
Mrs. Smith has made numerous contributions at the school and division level. She currently serves as English Department Chair, a participant in the "iPods in Instruction" grant initiative, a regular education lead teacher for the annual Virginia Grade Level Alternate Assessment Program, a co-teacher in an inclusion classroom, and a member of the Lynchburg City School's Gifted Advisory Committee. She has also served as a lead mentor at her school, a cooperating teacher for area colleges, and an adjunct professor and clinical faculty member at Randolph College during which time she created and taught a course for pre-service teachers.
Mrs. Smith was described by her principal, Mr. Brian Wray, as a "warm demander." Mrs. Smith put it this way, "Students must engage in meaningful work to learn. When it comes to doing the work necessary to be successful, my students are not given a choice. When a student indicates that he or she does not intend to do the work, my response is always the same. 'You will do the work. It might be here in class, it might be at home with your parents, it might be after school with me, or it might be during your lunch, but you will do your work. Your only choice is when it will be done.' That statement is my promise to my students, and it is how we show we care at Dunbar. Once students understand that an entire faculty shares the philosophy that 'failure due to failing to try is not an option,' the students begin to take more responsibility for their own learning, and they begin down the path to success."
When asked what her platform would be as Virginia's 2012 Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Smith said, "I want to remind people of all the dedicated teachers, fantastic students, and meaningful moments happening in Virginia's public schools every day. I want to encourage everyone in the Commonwealth to learn more about and help support and improve our school system and its over one million students. In summary, I invite everyone to celebrate and strengthen Virginia's public schools."