Smith named Teacher of the Year at PCHS (2024)

Smith named Teacher of the Year at PCHS

David Gravely

April 27, 2023

Smith named Teacher of the Year at PCHS (1)

Pulaski County High School has named Mrs. Brianna Smith as their 2022-23 Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Smith graduated from Abingdon High School, then later studied English Literature at Virginia Tech. She then attended Radford University, where she earned her Master’s in Education. She has been with Pulaski County Public Schools and PCHS for six years, teaching ninth, 11th, and 12th grade English, as well as Dual Enrollment Writing Classes through New River Community College.

“Mrs. Smith has been a true asset to our students and staff alike,” PCHS Principal Jennifer Bolling said. “Mrs. Smith's daily interactions with everyoneat PCHS are truly a blessing to us all and we are proud to celebrate her!”

Smith named Teacher of the Year at PCHS (2)

“When I went to college, I decided to study literature,” Mrs. Smith said. “I planned to go into professional writing or editing. In my sophom*ore year, I started tutoring student athletes and working with students learning English as a second language, and I fell in love with the teaching process. I never imagined myself teaching until my experiences in college. In high school, I was interested in Agriculture and the sciences, and actually applied and was accepted to Virginia Tech as a Biology major. By the time I graduated high school, however, I had decided to change my major to English.”

In her six years with PCPS and PCHS, Mrs. Smith has quickly learned that her favorite part is the students.

“Getting to see them grow and become adults throughout this incredibly challenging and exciting time in their lives is an amazing gift,” she said. “I also enjoy the content. It’s a

wonderful thing to see students discover talents and passions that they didn’t know they would have, simply by showing them poetry or asking them to go out on a limb and write or read something that they aren’t used to. I believe that students have a right to find their voices, and sometimes the most powerful way to do that is to hear and see other peoples’ perspectives through literature.”

Finding creative outlets has been a big part of her teaching career.

“I have been fortunate this year, in that two of my ‘teaching dreams’ have come true, and I love where I am right now,” Smith said. “I was able to coach Forensics for the first time, restarting the program here at PCHS (something I have been wanting to do since I started teaching), and I was also able to design and propose a creative writing workshop class that will be offered as one of our English electives next year. I love working with young writers and performers, giving them the opportunity to explore their interests and creativity in a supportive environment with others who are as passionate as they are.”

The freshly restarted forensics team earned three PCHS students two State Championships.

“If I didn’t pursue teaching, I might have also pursued a career in linguistics research or professional writing/editing,” she said. “Before college, I wanted to go into the field of Biology, either to study genetics or marine biology.”

Outside of school, Mrs. Smith stays busy also.

“I love anything outdoors: camping, hiking, backpacking, gardening. I also enjoy reading, writing poetry, and attending bluegrass concerts,” she said. “My husband and I love to travel, and we support a school in Mombasa, Kenya, where we volunteer as often as we can.”

A large support group has helped keep her and her career moving along in the right direction.

“My husband of ten years is Gavin Smith, and my two children are Elsie (4) and Jackson (7),” Smith said. “Both of my kids love ‘helping’ me coach Forensics, and are amazingly patient with long evenings at school. They have come to love working with my ‘big students’ as much as I do. The whole family is incredibly gracious with the increased demands on my time, including coaching, tutoring, and attending concerts and games, etc., and my husband keeps us alive by cooking us dinner nearly every night and keeping the house running during the school year. I also have an amazing support system in my parents, Melissa and Scott Meade, and my brothers, Eli and Li.”

The nomination form for Mrs. Smith showed just how much her hard work has been noticed.

“Brianna is an amazing teacher, rolls with whatever is asked of her, and she single-handedly brought back the PCHS Forensics Team. Brianna is also the sponsor of the Inklings magazine,which is an amazing way for students to get their art, poetry, and other writing published. She has also started a book club as a way to encourage reading amongst students. Just being around Brianna is inspiring and calming. She has amazing ideas. Brianna is an incredible teacher who goes above and beyond to serve the student body. She works so hard to provide her students with a variety of opportunities, and she makes it very apparent that her concern for them is genuine and from the heart! She does all of this while being an amazing mom, wife, friend, daughter, and coworker.”

Smith named Teacher of the Year at PCHS (2024)
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