Key West teacher Smith is named teacher of the year

Horace O'Bryant School teacher Nicole Smith "challenges students to reach their highest potential and goes about it so that their confidence levels go up as significantly as their academic levels," says Assistant Principal Denise Santiago.

That's just one of the reasons she's been named the Monroe County School District's teacher of the year by a districtwide selection committee.

Smith teaches seventh- and eighth-grade math at the Key West school and has been involved in numerous outside-the-classroom programs, such as as a coach in the Positive Behavior Intervention System and being the coordinator of the Advancement Via Individual Determination program.

"Her extensive knowledge of exceptional-student-education students and English language learners allows her to differentiate instruction to meet student needs," Superintendent Mark Porter said in a prepared statement.

Principal Mike Henriquez said in a statement, "Mrs. Smith's greatest asset is her infectious personality and sense of humor, which enables her to develop trusting and caring relationships with students."

Smith graduated from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and has a master's in education from Old Dominion University. She's secretary of HOB's School Advisory Council and on the Discipline Committee and Scheduling Committee.

She's been at Horace O'Bryant since 2013. Before that, she taught at Northumberland County Middle School from 2001 and 2013. She taught at Key Largo Elementary School in 2000 and 2001 and Stanley G. Falk School in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1998 to 2000.

"Above all, fellow educators say that Nicole Smith doesn't accept the problems and challenges in her classroom life; she finds ways to fix them," Porter said in his statement. "Her positive attitude and outstanding ability make her a game changer."