“I am so fortunate to direct what has grown to be possibly one of the most successful museum education and enrichment programs in the state, if not the nation,” Smith said. “It is my privilege to have a wonderful staff of 30 full- and part-time professionals and 160 active volunteers.
“As an instructional leader, I always want to encourage ‘growth and improved professional practices’ and to ensure the educational mission of Tellus Science Museum; because science matters, we engage, educate and inspire visitors to make scientific connections through dynamic exhibits and enriching experiences.”
Occupation/title: director of education at Tellus Science Museum
Family: Ted Smith, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Cartersville; Ashley and Jerome Knight and their daughter Isla of Cartersville; and Ian and Adrienne Smith of Moultrie.
Education: Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College, Columbia, S.C.; Masters Degree from Berry College; post work at Jackson State University.
City of residence: Cartersville
When did you take on the position of director of education at Tellus and what led you to seek that position?
A: After conducting a nationwide search for the position of director of education, executive director of the Weinman Mineral Museum and soon to be Tellus Science Museum, Jose Santamaria extended the offer to me October of 2009. I was already into my fourth school year as principal at South Central Middle School, but was very excited to make this move from formal to informal education.
What do you enjoy most about working at Tellus and are there any particular aspects of the museum experience you particularly enjoy sharing with visiting students?
A: I have the best job in the world — wonderful people, with amazing talents, with a common mindset of sharing a memorable science experience with everyone who enters our museum. Every day is a unique and amazing experience. One day I am literally shopping for fossils and the next we are hosting a Family Science Night featuring the science of flight with over a thousand people attending. But the greatest thrill is to see a child’s or an adult’s excitement when a concept goes from words or pictures to understanding.
I understand since 2011 you have served on the multiple STEM committees with the state (STEM Advisory Board for the Department of Education on: sub-committee for Business/Post-Secondary/Community Partnerships, sub-committee on STEM Professional Learning and chair for a committee for the development of a STEM Strategic Plan for Georgia. Can you explain how you work with these committees as well as explain the role STEM plays in public schooling and how it correlates with Tellus?
A: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) unfortunately are test areas that need improvement. Being a former science teacher, curriculum coordinator, administrator and now active in informal education certainly gives me a unique perspective on the various aspects of STEM education, how it functions, and how it might best be implemented. Tellus K-12 programs are structured to support all of the Georgia Performance Standards as well as many National Science Standards. We view our programs as an extension of a teacher’s classroom; supporting the hard work that they do by providing an experience that their students would not have in any other setting.
What do you consider your greatest personal or professional achievement?
A: Ted and I have been married for 35 years and are so blessed with our children, their spouses and our first grandchild so my family is my greatest personal achievement. Professionally, I have just been awarded the Museum Professional of the Year by the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries. But I have accepted that award understanding that I do so only because of the great people that I work with.
Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
A: Other than Tellus; Scott’s Barbecue and on my back deck.
Do you have a personal philosophy?
A: Ego says put everything in its place and you will find peace. God says seek peace and everything will fall into place. So I seek God.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’ve practiced yoga for 20 years and was a “star” in a TV commercial for Bond Bread when I was a toddler.