Supporting students when they need her most is part of the job for Horseshoe Bend School special education teacher Lindsey Smith, and it’s something she loves.
Smith said she was humbled when she was named the school’s elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020-21.
“It lets me know that I need to continue to push and to meet my students’ needs and we are making progress and people see it,” Smith said.
Smith has taught special education at Councill Middle School, Dadeville High School and Horseshoe Bend School. She primarily works with fourth through sixth grades and promotes students’ strengths while also supporting their weaknesses.
“I try to make sure I’m their ally,” Smith said. “(Special education teachers) are (students’) source of trust and compassion and empathy and can try to give them that foundation they need to be more successful at school.”
Originally from Pickens County, Smith grew up wanting to be a teacher. Her college professors recommended she go into special education.
Working at Camp ASCCA for two summers verified she wanted to follow that path.
“I think that that definitely prepared me for my career in special education,” Smith said. “I learned through those experiences that that’s where my passion lies.”
Smith also met her now husband Joshua Smith at the recreational camp for those with disabilities. She and her husband moved to Tallapoosa County 10 years ago.
Teaching special education means Smith gets to be creative with her students but it’s crucial for her to think about their schedules and learning styles.
“I want to give them an opportunity to learn just as any other student without a disability would learn,” Smith said.
Smith started a program with the State Department of Education through the Alabama Reading Initiative to improve her students’ reading and writing. She does therapy work with students who didn’t learn to read or write in a traditional setting.
“They are very intelligent students who are very capable; they just have trouble reading and writing,” Smith said. “I think for me I have seen the most success in that way.”
Having many students at one time can make it difficult to meet all their needs, Smith said.
Although special education students have disabilities, Smith knows they also have a lot of strengths.
“If you can look past any disability or weakness or struggle and find those strengths, those children are capable and just as smart as every other student,” Smith said.
Smith loves Horseshoe Bend’s community atmosphere and is happy to have her children, Maddie, Lillian and Reed Smith, attend.
“If there’s a need, we do everything we can to meet it,” Smith said. “If someone is struggling and needs help we try to provide that support.”