MARTIN, Tenn. — A University of Tennessee at Martin special education faculty member has received the Master Teacher of Honor award from Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Clinton Smith, assistant professor of special education in the university’s Department of Educational Studies, was notified of the award in November and is only the fourth recipient of the award this year.
To earn this designation, an educator must have more than 15 years of classroom teaching experience and submit evidence of professional development, leadership and community service. The person must also have exceptional contributions to the education profession and demonstrate a commitment to integrity and high standards in the classroom.
The award recognizes teachers of all levels, from early childhood instructors to university faculty members.
Smith began his teaching career as a high school and middle school educator and behavior intervention specialist. As a special education teacher, he modeled the philosophy that all students can learn. “To me, in the words of Tony Attwood (noted psychologist and author), a student with a disability ‘lives in our world, but in his or her own way,’” Smith said. “Sometimes you have to learn their ‘way’ to help them achieve.”
Smith has studied and implemented applied behavior analysis principles to control classroom behavioral issues. He seeks to understand the lives of his students and their social environment, which determines their behavior inside of the classroom and out. He believes that educators can be most effective when they are involved in the lives of the students and has acted as educator, disciplinarian, counselor, coach, and father to his students, all in the same day.
“Great teachers change lives by inspiring students to recognize their gifts and to learn how to use them to pursue a worthy dream,” said Dr. Mary Clement, KDP president. “Clinton is one such teacher.”
Smith is involved in numerous education associations beyond KDP. He serves on the Tennessee Education Association board of directors, is secretary of the National Education Association Caucus for Educators of Exceptional Children, and is past-president of the Tennessee Council for Exceptional Children.
He was recently selected as the head track-and-field coach for Team Tennessee for the Special Olympics USA National Games set for July 2014 in Mercer County, N.J.