A great teacher

Very cool to read about Wellington teacher Richard Smith:

A Wellington school teacher is “gobsmacked” after being honoured as New Zealand’s most inspiring educator.

Wadestown School teacher Richard Smith has beaten out thousands of other teachers to claim the accolade.

And what does he do?

The dedicated teacher said he spent time with individual children who needed extra support and made opportunities for one-on-one conversations with them.

Pupils needed to have a voice and to take a risk with their learning, he said.

A humble Smith said his colleagues also deserved recognition, and the support parents gave the school also helped makes a huge difference.

Mum Maria Edwards put Smith’s name forward for the Warehouse Stationery initiative. 

“Richard has the attitude that any child can do anything if they are given encouragement and the opportunities to succeed,” she said.

“He is patient, takes the time to be fair, and is very organised while always maintaining a great sense of humour. His policy is one of inclusiveness, no matter what.”

He was extremely kind and caring, but also discreet when giving his sandwiches to any child who had no lunch, she said.

“He has a great love of Maori culture and taught himself to speak fluent Maori. For my daughter, and her classmates, Richard will be the unforgettable teacher, the one who never gave up on any of them. He inspires and makes a difference in every child’s life.”

Most of us can recall one or two teachers like that.

Smith’s pupils were full of praise for their top teacher.

Mia Williams, 11, said he went out of his way to give all the students the support they needed.

“Mr Smith is one of the coolest teachers I have ever had.”

Julie Deem, 12, said her teacher was inspiring and when she asked him questions he really went out of his way to make things clear.

“He even comes in early some mornings to help people who aren’t so good at maths.” 

Wadestown principal Sally Barrett said she was the proudest principal in New Zealand.

“Richard is a talented teacher who installs in children a love of life-long learning,” she said.

“That’s a special gift a teacher can give to their students and means they will remember him for years to come.”

Can we clone him?

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