Story and Photo by Katy Durham, Panther Nation News, Midway ISD
Amy Smith, a Baylor School of Education 1999 graduate and biology teacher at Midway High School, was honored for her work mentoring Baylor students. She was named as the 2023 Outstanding Mentor Teacher by the South Central Area Network for Professional Development Schools. This regional honor recognizes exceptional educators who share a dedication to the field of teaching and the partnership between institutions of higher education and pre-K-12 schools.
Smith has hosted 13 Baylor students as full-year interns (senior student teachers), one-semester interns, and teaching associates (Baylor juniors) over the course of her 16 years as a mentor teacher at MHS.
“Mrs. Smith is a master mentor teacher,” Dr. Robin Wilson, Smith’s nominating colleague and Baylor University Professional Development School site coordinator, said. “She has developed an art for disseminating and exchanging her best instructional practices with interns assigned to her classroom.”
Smith has been an educator for 22 years—19 at Midway High School—and was instrumental in establishing and sustaining a collaborative partnership between MHS and the Baylor University School of Education.
“When I host Baylor student teachers, I start them off with classroom responsibilities on day one: It is our classroom. They are our students,” Smith said. “The best way to prepare student teachers and develop their skills is to allow them the freedom to try out their methods and lessons and then provide feedback.”
In addition to her role as a mentor, Smith is also the lead teacher for the Biology Professional Learning Community and has served on the Midway High School Professional Development School Steering Committee for the past five years. As a mentor teacher, she not only helps prepare student teachers for their careers, but also has the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with them.
“Student teachers provide me with daily professional development, which makes me a better teacher,” Smith said. “I get the most enjoyment from being a mentor when I see my interns grow into the successful teacher I knew they could be. I am privileged to be a part of their journey into the teaching profession.”
For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.