Brandi Smith was recently named Teacher of the Year at Neshoba Central Middle School.
Brandi Smith was recently named Teacher of the Year at Neshoba Central Middle School.
Brandi Smith didn’t start out wanting to be a teacher.

But when she took a class as a student at East Central Community College, she knew what she wanted to do with her life. Now in her 13th year as an educator, Smith was recently named Teacher of the Year at Neshoba Central Middle School.

“I was honored and surprised when they told me. It was a sweet surprise,” Smith said. “I was teaching and they knocked on my door and came in. My kids were very excited.

“I owe a lot to the group of teachers I work with. We work well together and it makes a difference. It’s a team effort. We plan together and our talk about our students, what might work to help them to improve and do better.”

Smith teaches seventh grade English. She has three, two hour blocks of classes. Her team members are Pam Nowell, Heather Pendergrass, Angela Fulton, Kristian Swearingen, who was last year’s Teacher of The Year.

“I like being around kids and developing a caring relationship with them,” Smith said. “We talk with our kids, get to know them, and keep up with what they are interested in. That caring relationship means a lot to both the students and teachers.”

Smith was born and raised in Neshoba County. After graduating from Leake Academy, she went on to finish at East Central Community College and then Mississippi State University.

Smith majored in education but when she started at East Central, she had not considered teaching as a career. Then her future husband, Jessie Smith, asked her to take an education class with him.

“I really enjoyed the class and I love teaching,” Smith said. “From then on, that’s what I wanted to do. Every day is different. You can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

Jessie, now the assistant principal at Neshoba Central Middle School, started at NC Elementary School out of college. Brandi taught one year at Noxapater before coming to coming to NCMS.

“I have three classes that are in two hour blocks,” Smith said. “I teach English and Language arts. It includes reading and writing.

“I have about 85 students. We work on the Cromebooks (which are laptop computers). They work on typing skills, too, because the state tests will be done on computer and they have to have those typing skills.

“My kids work hard. They want to please and they want to do well.”

So how does one keep up with 85 students.

“We rely a lot on tracking our data,” Smith said. “From our Iready scores and from the tests and scores, it paints a clear picture of what they struggle with. We take the time, whether it is in class or during remediation periods to work with those students in small groups on their individual needs. All of my students that I worked with, from the August test to the tests we just took went up. Our students all learn different and you have to recognize each one’s needs.”

When she’s not teaching, she stays busy with her family. Her son, Cooper, plays tournament baseball and that keeps the family busy. They attend Bethsaida Baptist Church.