Seventh-grade math teacher Betsy Smith was named 2011-12 Daniel-Mickel Foundation Master Teacher in the Middle School. The surprise announcement was made during chapel service on Friday, May 20. Charles Mickel, representing the Daniel-Mickel Foundation, presented the award, which carries with it a no-strings-attached monetary gift of $2,500.
"Betsy is the ultimate team player for Christ Church Episcopal School," noted Assistant Middle School Director Betsy Burton in her nominating letter. "If she can do something to help her school, she will do it without hesitation, not because she is seeking recognition, but because doing for others is genuinely part of her character."
Middle School Director Val Hendrickson echoed that sentiment, saying, "What Betsy offers to the Middle School and our school community is given from her heart. It is clear that she has no expectation of return, except for enhancing the experience of others. It's important to point out that Betsy could have chosen at least a couple of other fields in which to spend her career; in fact, teaching is relatively new to her, having begun teaching math in public school only fourteen years ago. Degrees in International Relations, Russian Studies, and Secondary Mathematics are testimony to Betsy's intellect, but her decision to work in caring and able ways with middle-schoolers attests to her passion for giving the very best to students who may find math difficult, who may find adolescence difficult, but who find Mrs. Smith ready to partner with them to make it through."
Her selflessness has not gone unnoticed by her colleagues, either. Seventh-grade teacher Chris Cunningham, herself a former Daniel-Mickel Foundation Master Teacher, nominated Mrs. Smith for this honor, saying, "Betsy is an extremely dedicated teacher. She is available to help students every day before and after school and in study hall--and always....She is [also] a dedicated team member, always willing to do her part to make the grade level a stronger team."
It is particularly impressive that in only four years of teaching at CCES Betsy Smith has already established such a strong reputation--"in her quiet way," as Mrs. Hendrickson comments.
The recipient of the annual master teacher award is chosen on the basis of nominations by faculty, students, and parents and reviewed by a committee of CCES administrators, parent and alumni representatives, and a representative of the Daniel-Mickel Foundation. Awardees must meet a long list of criteria extending beyond classroom performance, including evidence of service to the school and the community outside CCES, and the ability to stand as a role model for students and an ambassador for the school.
Mrs. Smith earned her undergraduate degree in International Relations in 1980 from Pomona College in California. She has a masters degree in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Michigan and a second masters in Russian Language for Secondary Teachers from Middlebury College in Vermont. In 1996 she completed certification courses for Secondary Math Education from Furman University.
Her daughter, Alison Bressler, is a member of the CCES Class of 2009.