S.P. Morton’s Clinton Smith named Teacher of the Year

Published 10:33 am Friday, May 25, 2018

Clinton Smith of S.P. Morton Elementary School teaches for the sake of his students, though not in hopes of recognition. Waiting in the lobby for him, the soft-spoken art teacher arrived but first said, “I’m not the person you’re looking for.”

The joking aside, this year’s Teacher of the Year then pointed out a nearby display of student art done to qualify as the next illustration for this year’s county fair. He’s pleased with their output, and noted how art can alter a student for the better.

“I enjoy seeing art curb negative behavior,” Smith added.

Influencing students for the better is his raison d’etre each morning he awakes to teach.

“I choose to get up and come here because of them,” said the teacher of 30-plus years.

Smith said he was at Hayden High School for two years before it closed, then went to S.P. Morton, later moved to J.P. King Jr. Middle School, and then came back. Also included in his resume is Franklin High School, where he’s been involved in the GED and adult education programs.

Oh, and he’s not above driving a school bus when and where necessary.

V. Thota, a professor at Virginia State University, is credited for guiding him to become a teacher.

“He saw something in me, and I followed his lead,” said Smith.

The subject he teaches to the Kindergarten through fifth graders is no less important than math, English or history.

“Art,” he said, “gives students a chance to express themselves. I give them an idea and they put it together. My drive is getting them to do it.”

“All I do is all about the children,” said Smith.