Lawton Public School Art teacher finalist in “Oklahoma Teacher of the Year”

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Lawton Public Schools hasn’t had an educator win the state’s ‘Teacher of the Year competition in over 50 years, but one art teacher is hoping to change that in 2022.

A Lawton Public School teacher hasn’t won this award since 1968, and Scott Smith said he’s proud to represent the district because he was once a student here himself.

Scott Smith, the advanced art instructor at the Ready Life Center, is now a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

“I’m really excited about that and also a little bit nervous, it’s kind of a bigger deal than I feel that I really am,” Smith said.

The state competition has changed. Before, only those who won Teacher of the Year for their districts could apply. But now, teachers who won the award for their particular site can also put their hats in the ring. So when Smith won at the Ready Life Center, he saw this as an opportunity to inspire other art teachers.

“My art teachers are the reason why I am an art teacher today. I love them they made me feel safe. They made me feel valued. They understood the amount of quirkiness that I have,” Smith said.

Smith wants people to see how elective teachers play a significant role in students’ lives. Not only do they help students academically, but also with everyday life problems. He describes elective teachers as the first line of defense.

“There is something about a student who is working with clay or working with a paintbrush that frees them to kind of discuss something that is probably problematic to them, or even their joys and their celebrations,” Smith said.

LPS senior David Brewer said taking Smith’s class definitely made an impact.

“He’s super supportive, he lets you explore your creativity. He lets you go in whatever direction you want to and he just nurtures that and he’s really nice,” Brewer said.

Mr. Smith has already won numerous awards and he said applying for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year was just the next step.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments and I think that I am going to leave a nice little legacy for Lawton public schools,” Smith said.

As a finalist, Smith will have an interview with the state and create a digital video of his teaching in the classroom. Then the state committee will announce the winner of the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year in March.