Eight years into teaching and Adrienne Smith-Powell is embracing the life of being a seasoned teacher at J. Larry Newton Elementary in Fairhope, AL. While discussing her love for teaching sixth graders, Adrienne reflected back on her first year at Newton with plenty of gratitude and even a bit of advice for new teachers.
“It can be difficult as a first and even a second-year teacher. I would say to find a good veteran teacher and become friends with them,” shared Adrienne. “Susan Clinton was the best mentor to me my first-year teaching. She pushed me and molded me into the teacher I am today and I am forever grateful for her guidance.”
Adrienne mentioned that, as a new teacher, she wishes she wouldn’t have been so hard on herself.
“You go to college and learn how to create the perfect lesson plans but nothing prepares you more for teaching than experience,” Adrienne said. “You are not meant to be perfect. Everything will come together. Do not be afraid to ask for help.”
The same advice Adrienne would give new teachers is actually advice she would give to her students as well. She works hard to be authentic and transparent with her 6th graders and feels like that honesty helps strengthen her relationship with them.
“My students have taught me that it’s okay to mess up and laugh at yourself. You do not have to have it together, all the time. I am comfortable saying, ‘you know guys, I did not do that right. Let’s try this again.’”
As a child, Adrienne loved playing ‘teacher’ and adored her own teachers growing up. It was a given that when her time came, she too would become a teacher and her mission would be to advocate for her students. Her hope is that they will always feel seen and heard, even after they leave her classroom.
Adrienne was shocked to find out about her nomination as Eastern Shore Parents Teacher of the Month.
“It feels amazing,” she said about receiving the award. “I was so surprised to see that I had been selected. I wish I knew who nominated me because I would love to thank them personally. My husband and I have a lot of big things happening right now and this nomination only adds to the excitement and makes it that much sweeter.”
Adrienne Smith-Powell and her husband James married this past July and are expecting their first baby in April 2024. When she isn’t teaching, Adrienne is the JV Cheer Coach at Fairhope High School and also leads Young Life Eastern Shore. When she has free time on the weekends, she loves to be at the beach with her husband.