TEACHER OF THE YEAR — Robotics educator selected for 1st-ever award winner through new partnership

Published 12:36 am Thursday, December 22, 2022

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NEDERLAND — told her after handing her $1,000 in gift cards. “Allie, these kids need it more and more every day. The whole world is going to electric and computers.”

Since January, Philpott Motors and The Port Arthur News have awarded $500 each month to an educator in Port Arthur or Mid County. The names were chosen by administrators.

Following the 11 individual awards, 286 employees from Philpott Motors read the articles and voted on Teacher of the year, Granger said.

Nederland High teacher Allie Smith shakes hands with Philpott Motors General Manager Daren Granger. (Monique Batson/The News)

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“It’s a very shocking experience, but I’m so, so honored to be named this,” said Smith of Nederland High School.

The educator began working at Nederland High School in 2016 following a career start with an engineering firm. In addition to Robotics, Smith sponsors the school’s fishing team.

Now halfway through the school year, Smith said it’s been a great one.

“We’ve done a lot of things through Process Champions and a lot of good things to help the camaraderie around the school,” she said. “And the kids have been great. It’s been a really good year.”

Pictured from left to right are Nederland Independent School District Superintendent Stuart Kieschnick, General Manager of Philpott Motors Daren Granger, Nederland High School Principal Natalie Gomez, Assistant Superintendent Steven Beagle, Robotics Instructor Allie Smith, Career and Technology Education Director Bryan Spell, and Port Arthur News Sales Consultant Candace Hemelt. (Monique Batson/The News)

But those around her say a great deal of energy and leadership in students and staff comes from Smith.

“She’s just phenomenal. She lights up every room she goes into,” said Principal Natalie Gomez. “She’s a workhorse and she sets that model for everybody that she works on projects with. There is no task that’s too big. I come up with an idea…and I haven’t finished the sentence and she’s already done it.”

Gomez referred to her as a magnet.

“She starts the project and everybody jumps in to get the task done — teachers and students,” she said. “Her students love her. That’s who she is as a teacher. As a colleague, with our staff, she’s fantastic.”

CTE Director Bryan Spell is in his first year at NHS and also commented on Smith’s gift for teaching.

“I think it starts with a genuine care for her students,” he said. “She has a genuine care to help friends and help people. And she’s just an energetic person. She brings great energy to our department. We’re fortunate to have her. She’s very motivated, and it brings a consistency that equates to success.”