There are few teachers with the reputability and stark philosophical prowess of Mr. Smith. This year the ISKL faculty takes a blow to its battalion of well-informed teachers. Having been teaching at the school for seven years, he has managed to make an impact not only the students he has taught but also the staff he interacts with. After 40 years dedicated to education and the quest for further knowledge, he will now retire and devote his time to some of his other intellectual and recreational pursuits.
Largely defined by his curiosity and tech-savvy nature, Mr. Smith plans on extending his interests and dedicating more time to them in his retirement. While retirement may, to some, be synonymous with more free time, he and his wife will both have very busy and active experiences. The time he has spent on lesson planning and class will be transferred over to ‘read books, time to write, time to listen to music time to fly planes, time to make travel apps.’ Next year brings with it exciting prospects for research and writing; ‘I was a researcher before I started teaching so I like researching and writing articles.’
On reflection, Mr. Smith identified working with the social studies department as one of the aspects of teaching at ISKL that he has enjoyed the most. ‘They are well informed and good teachers, they like to discuss big ideas and I have loved every single day of coming in and speaking with those people. That has probably been the most rewarding thing about being here: being a member of the social studies department.’ With only kind words for this close-knit group of teachers, he elaborated on their ability to listen and engage in dialogues. ‘They are not just mouthing things they have heard, everyone is willing to listen. Everyone is willing to have their minds changed if they hear a good argument, so it’s not just this blathering, people are learning and growing in that exchange. There is a wealth of experience; this has been my favorite department of the 11 schools I have been at.’
The department felt similarly with Mr. Martin expressing his thoughts ‘Mr. Smith is a true gentleman, who is always there with a kind word, a witty comment, or a philosophical classic for both students and teachers. He is a consummate educator who knows well how to bring out the best in the people he works with. It has been a true pleasure working with him over the years and the social studies department, and indeed the entire high school, will miss him greatly.’
In discussing the students at ISKL, Mr. Smith appreciated the ‘friendly environment’ fostered in a school that values camaraderie and support. Teaching Theory of Knowledge as part of the IB diploma, he has propagated the benefits of thinking critically. ‘It is designed to make you think more about the world and that is more necessary now in an age of too much information, and when there is so much division. We need to be able to think critically and recognize valid views in other people rather than simply looking at the sources we like.’ In departing he advises students to ‘step out of your comfort zone and take some risks.’ He discussed the importance of becoming the best version of yourself and never underestimate the power of resilience and some fortitude of character. ‘ it may take work and being uncomfortable and stress but be all you can be. I know people can do it.’