Dreher’s Teacher of the Year is Rebecca Smith-Hill, teacher in the Special Education Department. Ms. Smith-Hill has introduced her students to many innovative and exciting learning experiences. For example, with a small grant she won, Ms. Smith-Hill enrolled her students in a Yoga class. Every Wednesday last year they walked to the nearby studio to “de-stress.”
Encouraging their practice of valuable real-life skills, Ms. Smith-Hill implemented a Cooking in the Classroom project for her students. With a grant from Colonial Life, Ms. Smith-Hill purchased ingredients for recipes, cooking tools and bus passes for trips to the grocery store. Each week, students practiced social skills by navigating the public transportation system and shopped for recipe ingredients. Students gained math and science skills by illustrating and explaining recipe components and preparing food. At the end of class, students compiled the recipes in a cookbook.
An ongoing job for her students is fulfilling orders for hot beverages. Ms. Smith-Hill collects weekly coffee, tea and cocoa orders from the faculty and staff. The, during second block, her students deliver steaming cups to eager imbibers.
This fall Ms. Smith-Hill heard from her students that not many of them would be able to attend the SC State Fair. So, she and her instructional assistants decided to bring the Fair to their classroom! A Dreher student volunteered to paint faces, a community supporter brought popcorn and cotton candy, and the group had games with the lucky winners awarded stuffed animals and other prizes.
In December Ms. Smith-Hill, her classroom assistant Candace Jacobs, and her USC graduate assistant took the class bowling for Special Olympics. Each spring her students compete – and invariably win medals - in the Special Olympics outdoor games.
Ms. Smith-Hill recently enlisted the expertise of her colleague and friend, Dreher Science teacher Jacquie Whetsell, to conduct an experiment with her students. Ms. Whetsell showed them how to make Borax snowflake ornaments.
This year Ms. Smith-Hill sponsors Club GIVE, a new club including students in Ms. Smith-Hill's class as well as general education students. As their holiday fund-raising project they sold candy cane grams. On the last day of school in December, the students distributed the candy cane grams to lucky recipients.
The best testimony to Ms. Smith-Hill’s positive impact on her students is that they are never without a smile on their faces. She’s our Teacher of the Year!