Sentiments such as “I am so glad that teachers like you exist;: “You are one of those teachers I wish I could take with me to college, simply because you are that good;” and “thank you for your patience, encouragement, and for challenging me to be a better student,” are expressed by students of Greenbrier East High School (GEHS) teacher, Lawrence Smead.
In responseSmead states, “This is why I teach. Who could have a better job?”
Smead’s passion for learning and teaching has earned greatly deserved recognition as Greenbrier County Schools 2017-18 Teacher of the Year. The surprise announcement was made by Superintendent Jeff Bryant on Monday, June 5, during a meeting of the GEHS faculty. News of Smead’s award elicited cheers and celebration from colleagues who were present for the announcement.
“It is truly our privilege to celebrate Larry Smead with this honor and to reflect on his impact and influence in the lives of so many students. He is an unassuming and humble man who genuinely loves his students and we are blessed with his brilliance. Mr. Smead is an inspiration to all who know him and is most-deserving of this recognition,” said Bryant.
A 1974 graduate of Emory and Henry College, Smead earned B.A. degrees in English, government, and education. He went on to earn M.A. degrees in English and history from Radford University. After teaching in Virginia for approximately six years, Smead began his Greenbrier County teaching career at Renick Junior High School where he taught for five years before accepting a position at Greenbrier East High School in 1988. Twenty-nine years later, Smead enjoys teaching in the same GEHS classroom.
“When people ask me how I can be a teacher, I reply that I have the greatest job in Greenbrier County. Every day I discuss great literature with some of the brightest minds of our generation. I read to them and I listen to them and I grow from them. I simply could not find a better way to spend a day. So, teaching English is not just a challenge but an indulgence,” said Smead.
Smead was selected from a pool of Teacher of the Year candidates from schools across the county who were nominated and interviewed by a selection committee. In addition to naming a County Teacher of the Year, the school system selects an Elementary School Teacher of the Year, Secondary Teacher of the Year, and School Service Personnel of the Year. The names of those selected for these honors will be announced in August.
In the meantime, Smead will advance for West Virginia Teacher of the Year consideration. A committee appointed by the State Superintendent evaluates all county nominees and interviews a select group of finalists before naming the 2017-18 West Virginia Teacher of the Year.