Walk into Spencer Smith’s classroom on a school day, and one can’t help but notice he loves children.
Smith spends his days teaching Northwest kindergartners how to read and write and listening to his students’ stories of the exciting things going on in their lives outside school. The level of excitement and energy in Smith’s classroom is contagious, and it is apparent this role suits him perfectly. At night, Smith moves to another favorite role of his — being a dad. He and his wife have three children ages 9 months, 3 and 5.
As a high school student, Smith decided he wanted a career in education.
“I just always loved kids. I love seeing the excitement in their eyes and teaching them new things,” Smith explained. After student teaching in kindergarten and following that with a long-term substitute position in the same classroom, Smith knew working with kindergarten students was the right choice for him.
“I loved kindergarten,” Smith shared. “One of my favorite things about teaching kindergarten is seeing the kids come in at the beginning of the year so eager to learn and try new things. It is amazing how much growth the kids make over one year.”
After spending two years teaching in the Waukee School District, Smith moved to his current role as a kindergarten teacher at Northwest Elementary. This year marks his seventh year with the Ankeny District.
Smith also shared that kindergarten today is not the same as it was when his students’ parents were going to school.
“Kindergarten isn’t what it used to be,” he says. “Kindergarten is more rigorous and more intense. Students come out knowing a lot more than first-time parents expect.”
Today’s kindergartners move on to their first grade classrooms with more reading and writing skills than students 20 years ago did.
In the coming months, Smith’s class of kindergarten students will move on to new teachers, new classrooms and new challenges. Hopefully, they will also take along some valuable advice from their kindergarten teacher.
“Stay positive,” Smith tells his students. “Each day is a new day. Always have a smile on your face.”