Bailey Hall

Animation and esports teacher Tonya Smith works on the computer in her classroom.

Tonya Smith, CTE teacher

Never have I felt so loved in a classroom. Tonya Smith, who teaches animation, graphic design and esports, dutifully looks after each of her students, asking about personal lives and current projects. She accommodates students who fall behind in the classroom and remembers almost every detail you tell her. With such a variety of classes she teaches, you’d think she’d be more easily frazzled. Instead, everything is well organized and any problem is swiftly cleared away. She makes everything easier. 

My brother wasn’t very social, and hardly any teachers remember him. I truly didn’t expect Smith to ask if I had a brother at the beginning of this year. When I told her yes, and she excitedly asked if his name was Brett, there was a pride I’d never felt before. Having a large age gap with my siblings meant that I never went to school with them, and because we’re so different no one even assumed we were related. I was never asked about my siblings before this year.

When I got to tell her about his job, how college was going, the games we played together and all the snarky comments he made, I felt so much more connected with him. Then, when I got home I talked all about Smith to my brother. She inadvertently made me bond with my brother, and I doubt she even realized it at the time. 

Smith’s classroom is full of these little bonding moments. On the last Thursday of every month, the class has Animation Share Day. The animation students all gather up front with drinks and snacks Smith provided, and watch each other’s animations. We compliment and critique each other and spend the whole day writing in Google Forms what we liked and wondered about the projects. I’ve made new friends and become closer with people I already knew. 

Smith is just such a positive influence on this school, and every interaction I have with her is filled with joy.

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