May 2013 Winner - Jeremy Smith:(Southeast Lauderdale High School)


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Meridian Star Article

By Terri Ferguson Smith

Shop class isn't just for guys anymore. The dedication of one shop teacher so impressed a young lady in his class that she nominated him for the Golden Apple Teacher of the Month.

He's only two years into his teaching career, but when Jeremy Smith began his career in education, he brought with him years of experience at running a construction company. Smith, construction technology and carpentry instructor at Southeast High School, is the Golden Apple Teacher of the Month for May. Sponsors surprised Smith recently with the award after he was selected from a field of nominees. A student who is graduating this year nominated him and couldn't say enough about him.

In her nomination letter, Katie Sumrall said that Smith believed in her when she didn't believe in herself.

"Most people would say that shop class was for guys, but with me being a girl who is not afraid of being dirty or breaking a nail, I took the class. I personally love the class," Sumrall said. "I can change light sockets, hang sheet rock, paint, run electrical wires, and even lay tile. If I am doing something wrong, he explains it to me. He pushes me to do the best at the things I never thought I would do because it was labeled as a man’s job."

Smith ran his own construction company on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for about eight years, specializing in custom floors and custom showers. A Meridian native, he wanted to get back closer to home and he thought he would go back to his original idea of becoming a teacher.

Dwane Taylor, principal, said he was hired because of his work experience and also because of his background with children.

"He reminds me of a football coach to some degree because he knows when to be tough on them and then he knows when to not be," Taylor said. "It takes some teachers a lifetime to learn that and I think he has mastered that pretty early."

Smith's shop classes are for students in grades 10-12 and the first year course is construction technology, which includes electrical, masonry, plumbing, and safety. It also teaches students about getting and keeping a job and public speaking. The second year is carpentry.

"Things are really changing and you have to change with them, fast," Smith said. "Technology being what it is, information can spread in a matter of seconds. We have a modern classroom. I teach from a smart board. I incorporate a lot of group projects."