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  • Folger McKinsey physical education teacher Tim Smith incorporates exciting games and activities into his lesson plans.
    Zach Sparks
    Folger McKinsey physical education teacher Tim Smith incorporates exciting games and activities into his lesson plans.

Tim Smith Puts Students On Lifelong Path To Wellness

Zach Sparks
View Bio
February 8, 2017

The 2017 Anne Arundel County Public Schools Teacher of the Year semifinalists cover a wide range of grade levels and subject areas. Among the 10 potential winners are Tim Smith, a physical education teacher at Folger McKinsey Elementary in Severna Park; Robert Stojakovich, a music teacher at Magothy River Middle School in Arnold; and Alma Durm, who teaches special-needs students at Ruth Parker Eason School in Millersville.

The semifinalists will be honored at the 31st annual Excellence in Education banquet at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum on April 26, and one of these three may represent Anne Arundel County Public Schools as its Teacher of the Year. But before that, get to know these dedicated educators who consider teaching to be more than just a job.

After having his kindergarten class demonstrate their ability to gallop and slide during a January lesson, Folger McKinsey physical education teacher Tim Smith introduced a fun game. He separated his class into four teams. Dumped in the center of the gymnasium — dubbed Mr. Smith’s island — were his “magical jewels,” and any child who took more than two would be subject to a tap from Smith’s “bopping stick.”

Through this exercise, students showed their understanding between locomotor movements (where the body travels from one space to another) and non-locomotor movements (a movement performed while a person is stationary).

“From the time that our students enter as kindergartners, having them partake in activities that foster a sense of cooperation among their peers, and the perseverance necessary to master challenging skills is critical,” Smith said.

After high school, Smith was undecided about a career. Volunteering with his cousin, Oak Hill teacher Chris Collins; working with the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks; and enrolling in Frostburg State University programs that paired college students with school-aged children, he found his niche. After serving as a long-term substitute at Chesapeake High School, Smith joined Folger McKinsey in 2011.

“Living an active lifestyle is something that has always been important to me, and for as long as I can remember, I've always enjoyed working with kids,” he said.

His curriculum focuses on activities that encourage kids to move and balance their bodies. Kindergarteners engage in chasing and fleeing activities (tag games), rhythm exercises and gymnastics that incorporate basic rolls and routines. In grades three to five, students build on those skills with sports-related activities, fitness development and manipulative skills like throwing and striking.

“When you walk through the doors of Folger McKinsey Elementary, don't be surprised if it looks and sounds just a bit different from other elementary schools,” said Principal Lenora Fox. “The first room you see as you exit the school office is the gym, and that is where Mr. Smith makes magic happen. You may hear great music, see elaborate obstacle courses, or even find students touring the school on scooters. Mr. Smith is always striving to find fun and engaging ways for our students to develop fine and gross motor skills, learn about healthy body systems and work as a team.”

Outside of class, Smith organizes an annual speed-stacking tournament, he assists Girl Scout Troop 10300 with quarter auctions and Halloween haunted house fundraisers, he hosts a morning climbing club, and he engages in a “lunch bunch” with students, where they eat, shoot basketballs, throw footballs or play on square scooters.

“It's opportunities like these where I really feel like I get to see our students' true personalities, and they're never reluctant to share the things that interest them the most,” Smith said. “More importantly, the fact that many of them are willing to spend additional time with me reinforces the notion that they see me as a positive role model and they value the time that we spend together, during physical education.”

All of these activities, Smith hopes, will encourage students to pursue healthy lifestyles long after they leave Folger McKinsey. Smith’s nomination for Teacher of The Year also shows that the staff and parents at Folger McKinsey are equally appreciative of his approach.

“Being nominated to this award has truly been an honor and it has allowed me quite a bit of time to reflect on the people who have been instrumental in my life,” Smith said. “I wouldn't be the person that I am today without my parents, nor would I be the teacher that I am today if it were not for many of our staff members at Folger, and the colleagues that I have had since beginning my career. I've received many well wishes and it’s gratifying to know that there are so many people who are standing by my side through this awesome experience.”

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