Keri Smith, an Independence Elementary School gifted education teacher, has been named as the Yukon Public Schools Teacher of the Year, the district has announced.
Smith is a graduate of Yukon High School. She was also named as the district’s Rookie Teacher of the Year. She spent one year teaching at Yukon Middle School.
Smith is also a published author whose work has appeared in “Science Scope,” the National Science Teaching Association’s publication.
Her lesson, “Gearing up for Engineering,” was originally field-tested in Yukon Middle School’s Gifted Education classroom while she was still studying at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Smith says her passion is in gifted education.
Smith describes teaching as not only a family trait, but her life’s purpose. She says she loves challenging students to take their skills, talents, and interests to the next level.
She is determined to find a talent in every student and help them develop and use that talent in multiple areas of their education.
Smith says she is most proud of her success in spearheading an after school chess team at Independence Elementary.
Today, there are over 90 students on the team, which includes students from the middle school.
She holds a site-based chess tournament every year, and is now hosting a yearly state chess tournament through the Oklahoma Scholastic Chess Organization.
Last year over 100 students from around the state participated.
Independence Elementary School Principal Amy Young said Smith is “simply the very best.”
“Keri is a master at differentiation and meeting the needs of all students in her class,” Young said. “She never stops learning and never stops pushing herself to be better. We are a better school because Keri teaches at Independence.”