Lynwood—Biomedical Sciences teacher Deena Smith, a 20-year instructor at Lynwood High School, is as dynamic as her curriculum in the classroom where she always seems to draw a crowd of current and past students who gather to analyze fake murder scenes or observe a dissection of an animal.
For Smith’s ability to continually inspire her learners and grow the school’s medical career technical education (CTE) program, she was named Lynwood Unified’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year.
“When she teaches she really engages and applies things that make it fun,” Lynwood High junior Andy Medina said. “She really stands out—that’s why we have so many students pursuing medicine.”
Smith’s students explore a range of careers in biomedical sciences as they learn in the context of real-world, hands-on activities, projects, and problems. After completing the four-year CTE medical program at Lynwood high, students receive certification to work as medical assistants who have the ability to administer blood and electrocardiogram tests.
Smith proudly shares that some of her graduating students this year will attend the likes of Stanford and Boston University. She has helped guide the school’s CTE medical program which began in 2000 with just nine students. This year, the program has 140 students.
“I love my job and I’d never want to do anything else,” Smith said. “Getting the chance to work with these brilliant kids is such a privilege. I try to connect with them, not as a student-teacher, but as a colleague. That helps us build a relationship.”
For her exceptional work, Smith was honored at a District Board of Education meeting, where she was cheered wildly by colleagues and students in May. A representative from Schools First Federal Credit Union attended the meeting and presented all 19 Teacher of the Year nominees with gift cards.
“Deena Smith is a ray of light that illuminates the curriculum for our students,” Lynwood Unified Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “She is able to challenge her classrooms and inspire them to grasp difficult concepts in practical ways.”
Lynwood Unified Board of Education President Alfonso Morales said that Smith’s exemplary leadership rubs off on other teachers.
“We have strong teachers who challenge their schools and each other to raise the level of achievement,” Morales said. “Congratulations to Deena, and all of our teachers for continuing to lead our children to better futures.
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