Travis Smith, Excellence in Secondary Teaching

Portrait of a man

Williams High School - Band Teacher

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Teaching Philosophy 

Philosophy of Teaching - Travis Smith

I believe teaching is the most important and rewarding profession of all. Leaders in every profession begin their career preparation and develop a passion for learning through education. It does not matter if students placed under our care become lawyers, doctors, teachers, white or blue-collar workers, we have the awesome responsibility to foster and instill in every individual a sense of self-worth, responsibility, teamwork, and dedication, as well as a workable knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.

In doing so, we must teach with a growth mindset and be versatile in our teaching styles. Students come into every classroom with different life experiences. My goal each year is to meet them where they are and put them in a position to be successful at a higher level. Therefore, it is important to know what their strengths are and what areas need improvement. In many instances, I use their strengths to strengthen the areas that are in need of improvement. As stated above, students come to us with different experiences and meeting them where they are means that we will always have some students more advanced than others in certain areas. Therefore, we must meet the needs of those that are not as advanced while challenging the others. In my teaching, I make every effort to provide as much information about the culture, history, inspiration for the piece as well as how it may relate to other subject areas. I also make a point of letting students know why or what the benefits will be because of our daily work on the basics. It is important to know what was good about what we or I did or what is it that I did not do well and how can I make it better? Students and teachers need to know why they are doing what they are doing and not because that is what everyone else does.

In my opinion, all students have the capacity to learn. Therefore, in addition to teaching the essentials of the subject matter, we must teach responsibility, teamwork, an understanding and appreciation for other cultures, citizenship, diligence, how to overcome short comings with success, and above all, we must be positive role models. We must make what we are teaching relevant. Students also need to know that you genuinely care for them.

It is so rewarding to see individual students perform a solo or audition for a leadership position or honors group they never would have attempted without the encouragement and a little prodding to do so. For them to realize the growth that took place in the process of preparing and to see them encourage others is one of the most fulfilling moments one can experience. I have had students who never auditioned for all region band or played a solo at UIL Solo and Ensemble do so for the very first time and tell me how great the experience was for them.

It is equally rewarding to see students put in the effort and do their best to contribute to the success of the full group. It is truly amazing to see student’s exhibit pride, take ownership in their individual, and group efforts. To see the jubilation and excitement when they hear the results of their performance says it all.

Teachers need to be lifelong learners, feel good about themselves, love children, love teaching, know our subject matter, and continue to study and grow in our area of concentration.

Principal's Recommendation

Dear Teacher of the Year Interview Panel:

We are extremely blessed to have Travis Smith representing Williams High School as the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year! It is with much excitement, joy and enthusiasm that I write this letter of recommendation to for Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith has been an inspiration to our campus and to the Eastside community. His 32 years of service on this campus have truly been remarkable and his loyalty has created a longstanding sense of continuity and stability for our Fine Arts program.

I have now had the pleasure of working with Mr. Smith for four years. Throughout this time, I have learned that Mr. Smith has built and established quite a reputation for himself as a band teacher. Every year that I have been at Williams High School, our band program is always recognized. Bands under his direction have consistently rated superior in UIL Marching, Concert and Sight-reading contest. In addition to receiving a number of sweepstakes awards, his bands have also been selected as “Best in Class” or named “runner-up” at numerous invitational music festivals. Not only does Travis have an award-winning program; Travis has an excellent attitude and is always willing to serve when needed.

Travis always has a bright smile on his face and is loved and respected by his students and his peers. He is one of the hardest workers I know and he spends countless hours on his program and with his students. When I asked a parent about what she likes best about Mr. Smith, she stated, “He gets the most out of his students because of his dedication and commitment to what he does.” Mr. Smith is demanding, yet caring and he shows this through the numerous hours spent in band. His colleague’s state: “Travis has such high integrity both personally and for his program. He is compassionate about teaching and building relationships with his students and families.” “His car is one of the first in the parking lot in the mornings and one of the last ones to leaves in the evenings.” “Travis creates an atmosphere in the classroom that promotes respect for musicianship and the benefit of working toward continuous growth.” “His dedication is unsurpassed.” “He is student focused and dedicated to student success both in and out of school.”

Mr. Smith serves on the Williams High School Leadership team as Fine Arts Department Chair and he has the Plano Community and School District as a member of the Plano Independent School Districts' Multi-Ethnic Committee, The Plano I.S.D. Martin Luther King Steering Committee, and as a mentor for new and veteran teachers in Plano.

On the weekends, Travis is actively involved in his Church, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Plano where he serves as an Adult Sunday School teacher, a member of the male chorus, and the hospitality committee.

I am truly pleased that Mr. Smith is the Williams High School Teacher of the Year. The passion that he continues to show for his craft is priceless. After 33 years, Travis is still going strong and continues to add to strong legacy that he himself created. He is much deserving of this award and he is a well- rounded, dedicated, experienced candidate that can serve as the next Plano ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year!