After four years of teaching at Ricardo Richards Elementary School, Harolyn Elsie Smith was selected St. Croix teacher of the year Monday for her exceptional work.
"In the case of Ms. Smith, we are looking at an exceptional young teacher who embodies what the essence of teaching is,” said St. Croix Superintendent of Schools Gary Molloy in a statement after Smith’s selection. “Her caring spirit and real passion for what she does really portray and radiate onto the children."
Smith, 28, was born on St. Croix to Susanna Callwood-Smith and the late Harold Emerson Smith Sr. She attended Alexander Henderson Elementary School, Arthur A. Richards Junior High and graduated from St. Croix Educational Complex High School.
Smith began her teaching career at Ricardo Richards Elementary as a third-grade teacher after graduating cum laude and receiving her bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of the Virgin Islands in 2008.
“The entire Ricardo Richards Elementary School family is very excited about the news,” Ricardo Richards Principal Colleen Williams said upon receiving word of the selection. “She’s an outstanding teacher and the children love her dearly.”
Smith is credited by the Education Department for being a highly qualified teacher who provides positive encouragement for her students and has a strong desire to see each one reach his or her highest potential. The department’s announcement of her selection says she creates a classroom environment that fosters every child’s academic, emotional and social growth.
Smith’s mother is a Henderson Elementary former principal. “I am so proud of my daughter,” Callwood-Smith said. “She is very dedicated to her profession and her students.”
“She spends her week nights and weekends planning creative lessons for them, always searching for innovative ways to get them excited about learning, especially through reading,” Callwood-Smith said.
Smith attributes her love for teaching to her parents, who were both educators and Aunt Jestina Selkridge, a former elementary school teacher. “I fondly remember listening to their daily discussions about their students and witnessing their dedication and passion for the profession,” she said. “As a teacher one should always be prompt, prepared, productive and passionate.”
Smith has held membership in her school’s Black History Month Committee and has been a member of the Math and Science Committee for the past four years. She tutors students early in the morning, after school and sometimes during her lunch break.
“She’s always willing to assist her school, parents and students in any capacity,” Principal Williams said. “She sees the beginning of every school year as an opportunity to positively influence the lives of all her students.”
Finalists for the Teacher of the Year in the school district were Laurise Oliver, a kindergarten teacher at Alexander Henderson Elementary and former Territorial Teacher of the Year Jane Meade, a science teacher at John H. Woodson Junior High School.
Harolyn Smith vies for the 2011-2012 Territorial Teacher of the Year alongside St. Thomas/St. John Teacher of the Year Faye Richardson, an Ivanna Eudora Kean High School teacher for 26 years.