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Teacher Spotlight: Andrew Smith


Teacher Andrew Smith (right) started Scecina's Robotics Club four years ago. Seniors Mitch Kozenski (left) and Desiree Carney have been members since the start

Name: Andrew Smith
College/University: Hobart and William Smith Colleges, George Mason University
Degrees: History, religious studies, American history
Current Position: Social Studies teacher

This week we introduce the Scecina Teacher Spotlight, which will shine each month on one of Scecina's faculty members. This month's spotlight is on Andrew Smith.

By Beth Murphy

When a Scecina student approached teacher Andrew Smith about starting a chess club at school this year, Mr. Smith said he shrugged and said, “Sure. I’ve got the time.”

That he had the time is a feat, because Mr. Smith also teaches a full menu of social studies classes while serving as adviser to the Robotics Club, the Debate Club and Scecina’s chapter of the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society. He’s also Scecina’s Selective Service and Voter Registrar.

Mr. Smith started the Robotics Club four years ago in his first year at Scecina, with a little assist from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who was pushing robotics at Indianapolis schools. “(Principal) Mr. Hegarty came and asked if I wanted to start the club. The mayor was offering base kits for schools,” he said. Those base kits consisted of enough parts to make a small robot with a rotating turret that throws a Nerf ball.

The Robotics Club appeals to kids, Smith said, because it opens the door to many STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) college scholarships. Robotics competitions consist of teams assembling robots from kits. Last year Scecina placed second in the Lock Tight Night, in which Cummins Inc. engineers also compete, and were in the quarterfinals for the City of Indianapolis, the largest city-wide robotics competition in the nation and sponsored by Roche Diagnostics. The teams are locked in for a night to design, build and program a robot.

Smith, an eastern New York native, attended Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes region, where he received a double major in history and religious studies and a double minor in education and Russian studies. He went on to George Mason University for graduate school, where his major was American history with a focus on the political economy of the Gilded Age.

Mr. Smith this month traveled to New Orleans for the National Council for Social Studies conference, where he was a member of the Conference Global Understanding Award Review Committee. At the Indiana Council for Social Studies conference also this month, he presented the lecture “Integrating Indiana State History into AP Government.” “Local and state government most affects people, yet we don’t have a lot of time to teach it in AP Government,” he explained. Mr. Smith says attending the conferences help him as a teacher. “Basically, you can fill in the gaps in your teaching knowledge,” he said. “You also can learn a lot about new technology and also network with other teachers.”

Mr. Smith says he likes teaching high school students, specifically seniors, because he can have rational discussions and debate.

“They are also worldly enough to talk about tough issues,” he said. “That said, they are young enough that they haven’t yet entered the world and still have an entire lifetime to shape our political, social and economic future.”

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