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Smith Named James Becker Thomson Special Education Teacher of the Year

Smith Named James Becker Thomson Special Education Teacher of the Year

By: Susan Passmore
Smith photo
Kimberly Hanle Smith

Kimberly Hanle Smith, special education math teacher at Baytown Junior School, is the James Becker Thomson Special Education Teacher of the Year for 2016-2017. The award was established by Dr. Richard Thomson in honor of his brother James, and this is the 42nd year it has been presented to a Goose Creek CISD teacher.

Smith is a product of Goose Creek CISD, having attended Austin, Bowie and De Zavala elementary schools, Gentry Junior School and Sterling High School, where she was active in the Sterling Stars and in Student Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human development from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University. She and her husband Joseph have a two-year-old daughter Lexi.

Now in her 11th year of teaching at Baytown Junior, Smith became interested in teaching after Steve Koester, former BJS principal and now director of educational technology, asked her to take a long-term substitute teaching position.

“He said, ‘I just know you’re going to love it!’” Smith said. “A few weeks later, I went to him and told him that I did love it and I wanted to become certified.”

Smith’s sister Jennifer Nerf, also a special education teacher at BJS, has been an inspiration to her in her career.

“She is a role model to me of what a special education teacher should be,” Smith said.

Sarah Chase, former coordinator of campus services at Goose Creek CISD, depended on Smith to help her in co-teaching training and appointed her as the Fast ForWord Reading Intervention coach and the lead coach for Cogmed Working Memory Training.

“She works well with kids and with parents and has a thorough knowledge of working with the most significantly impaired to those who have fewer challenges,” Chase said. “She’s one of those people that you ask her to do something, and she makes it happen. She’s a shining star.”


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