Lyndonville teacher speaks at national education conference

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Elissa Smith is AVID coordinator at LCS

Provided photo – Elissa Smith, the AVID coordinator for Lyndonville, won an essay contest and delivered a speech before about 2,500 education professionals during a conference in Philadelphia on July 16.

LYNDONVILLE – The coordinator of a college prep program at Lyndonville was picked as the teacher to address 2,500 education professionals during a recent conference in Philadelphia.

Elissa Smith, a Spanish and public speaking teacher at Lyndonville, also is coordinator of the district’s AVID program, which helps students plan for college. The program is targeted to students who could be first-generation college students and begins with students in elementary school.

Smith submitted an essay from a teacher’s perspective and it was selected to be shared during the education conference. Thirteen other Lyndonville teachers attended the conference.

In her speech, Smith compares her job as an AVID elective coach and coordinator to that of a cartographer or mapmaker.

“I must help map the multiple paths to student success,” Smith writes in her essay. “I must carefully mark out the roadblocks and snares along the way, but I am not the navigator. I can only inspire my students to start moving toward their goals, to help them use their struggles as catalysts as they venture on toward their dreams. I need to share information with them to help them know what tools to pack for the adventure and provide them with support when they need a break or need encouragement as they change direction on the journey.”

Smith said it was an “unbelievable” honor to share her speech at the conference. The district just graduated its first class of students in the AVID program. Four of the top 10 students were in AVID.

The district this school year will extend the program to kindergarten, working with potential first-generation college students to avoid pitfalls and attain academic success and rigor throughout their school experience.

“It’s a teacher’s duty to help students along the way,” Smith said.

In her speech at the conference, Smith said many of the AVID students have overcome obstacles to succeed in the classroom.

“Our first AVID class is comprised of students who have nearly every excuse possible not to pick up that map and start the difficult journey to bigger dreams,” Smith said. “You know these students – those who have lost parents, immigrated here from a war-torn nation, those who are hungry, those with families torn apart by addictions – and I know you cheer for them just as proudly as I do. As they get ready to leave us, to move on to the next phase of life, may we be sure that they feel the pride of a community behind them.”

For a link to her speech at the conference, click here.