Tim Smith '00 (Mathematics), '01 (Credential)

Smith's passion, innovations lead to major honor

Whether it was his time as an Army sergeant or working as a butcher at Albertson’s, Tim Smith couldn’t help but teach. It turns out he’s pretty good at it.

Smith is a 2014 California Teacher of the Year.  

“Every job I’ve ever had, I ended up in a teaching role,” says Smith, who was one of five statewide honorees. He was tabbed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson as California’s lone nominee for 2014 National Teacher of the Year.

Smith teaches two algebra classes and two advanced placement statistics classes at Florin High School in Elk Grove. But it was his innovative “Mathletes” program—a district-wide math competition—and his clear passion for the profession that set him apart.

“I do a lot of things not only with the students, but with other teachers and the district,” Smith says. “I spread myself far and wide. With the ‘Mathletes’ program, we have kids from nine middle schools coming to Florin High School every month to compete and that’s something that never existed before.”

Smith is a proponent of technology in the classroom and regularly gives presentations to students in Sac State’s credential program on the subject.

“I think a classroom without technology isn’t really connecting to the real world,” Smith says. “We’re doing students a disservice if we don’t expose them to it.”

Smith speaks with a subtle southern drawl left over from his youth in Florida. Smith’s wife Vicki Feliz-Smith ’94 (Math) ’95 (Credential) brought him to Sacramento. She finished school at Sac State and began teaching at Kennedy High School before encouraging her husband to follow her lead.

One of Smith’s favorite ways to spend free time is playing “World of Warcraft and other video games with his two sons. He’s also currently working on his third Sac State degree in the Internet Master’s in Educational Technology program.

He says Sac State’s credential program is one of the finest in the state. Combined with his natural predilection for instruction, it made for a perfect combination. Prior to earning the statewide honor, Smith was named the Elk Grove Unified School District Teacher of the Year and the Sacramento County Teacher of the Year.

“I’ve received recognition from teachers and administration in our district, but this is by far the biggest award I’ve ever received,” he says. “I just want to represent our district and our county and let them know that they’re greatly appreciated.”