Top Teacher Spotlight: Middle school educator helps students launch into their futures

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Top Teacher Spotlight showcases outstanding educators across Dallas ISD who are thriving under the Teacher Excellence Initiative. 

Karla Smith’s passion for STEM led her to the otherworldly experience of attending a Space Camp for teachers at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama.

After one of the 10 percent of applicants chosen for the opportunity, Smith, a science teacher at Benjamin Franklin International Exploratory Academy, engaged in astronaut training simulations that were both physically and mentally challenging. Following the incredible experience, Smith became even more passionate about the link between STEM education and student success.

“We aren’t going to Mars, but the ones who will be are sitting in our classrooms today,” Smith said. “We must do everything we can to prepare them to launch into their futures.”

Karla Smith and fellow educators at Space Camp for teachers at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama.

Smith is a top district teacher who is thriving under the Teacher Excellence Initiative, which seeks to identify, encourage, and reward effective teachers by prioritizing and supporting academic excellence. Through the Distinguished Teacher Review Process (DTR), Dallas ISD recognizes teachers who demonstrate leadership, pursue learning opportunities, contribute to the profession of education, and promote academic excellence.

Smith is proud to call herself a DTR Ambassador.

“I serve as a DTR Ambassador because I want other teachers who are equally as passionate about ensuring student success to be recognized and rewarded for their amazing accomplishments,” Smith said.

But above all, Smith cares the most about her students.

“It is always my hope that students will grow and maximize their own God-given gifts in pursuit of their happiness and future of choice,” Smith said. “I often offer this advice: What we feel like doing now is rarely going to get us what we will want later. Do the things now that will prepare you for anything so that your future options include everything.”

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