NORMAN — Madison Elementary special education teacher Gay Smith has been selected the 2013 Sooner AMBUCS Special Education Teacher of the Year, which carries with it a cash prize of $500.
AMBUCS is a nonprofit service organization that seeks to create mobility and independence for people with disabilities. It has 135 chapters in 30 states.
Smith has taught students with special needs in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade at Madison for four years and has nine total years of experience. Sooner AMBUCS President Adri-Anne Trammell said her organization was inspired by her commitment and the positive impact she has made on students’ lives and that of their families.
“She is such a treasure,” Trammell said. “Being a special education teacher provides unique challenges, but also unique personal rewards.
Gay’s work is life-changing for the students and families she serves. She certainly knows that and that is why she strives to perform at the highest level of excellence every day.”
In nominating Smith for the highest honor AMBUCS bestows on a teacher, Madison Principal Pam Charlson said Smith was able to strike the ideal balance of protecting the rights of a student with special education needs and pushing them to reach their potential and complete on grade level.
“Gay is a huge support and resource to me as principal of Madison Elementary,” Charlson said. “She sees a need and acts without being asked. She works with teachers to support the behavior and educational needs of a student. … I count on and depend upon Gay every day, both personally and professionally.”
NPS Special Services Director Justin Milner underscored Smith’s value to the district and his deep appreciation to AMBUCS for recognizing and rewarding special education teachers.
“We have a significant shortage of special education teachers in Oklahoma and recognition programs such as AMBUCS’ help to build awareness for the very important work these individuals provide us each and every day,” he said. “Gay is an outstanding educator and her devotion to her students is unparalleled; she is most deserving of this honor.”
Gay Smith, right is presented a certificate by Norman Board of Education member Don Shandy at a February Board meeting for her selection as AMBUCS 2013 Teacher of the Year