More often than not, when I look for people who might fit in what I want to share with you here, I stumble upon middle-aged people who after a first career decided to change and started building a portfolio career over time. The person I’m presenting to you today is not middle aged, he is only 26, but has a resume beyond his years. He is the proof that the new generations naturally embrace their multiple interests and implement them in their life and career early on.
Clint Smith is a High school English teacher in the United States. He is a proud alumnus of the New Orleans Public School System and earned a BA in English from Davidson College (North Carolina). In 2013, he was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council. He has been featured in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, The Root, NBC News and is profiled in the book, “American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom” by Katrina Fried (Welcome Books, 2013). (NB: The picture below was taken for this book and you can read more about the 12 rules the best teacher live by here.)
Clint Smith has definitely brought his passions into the classroom. His main one is poetry, which he discovered in 2008 when he still was in college. His second one is justice. So he combined them and uses spoken word as a way to address social issues in many of his pieces. That led him to become an award-winning spoken word artist (a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and an Individual World Poetry Finalist).
In the classroom, Mr. Smith combines his passion for poetry and justice to teach students the importance of their own stories as catalysts for meaningful social action. His passion for language inspires his students to find, express, and believe in their own inner voices. Says Smith, “We sit in our classroom as ambassadors of our past, I tell my students. We will learn to read critically, write consciously, speak clearly, and tell our truth because that is the only way this world will ever listen to what we have to say. We are not here to celebrate the status quo of stereotypes. Whether it is what you look like, what you sound like, what your name is, or where your family is from, our role is to break out of these boxes the world has put us in. Every day in my class, we try to use literature to break out of these boxes. We question. We criticize. We agitate. We advocate. We read. We write. We recognize that we all have a story.”
Outside of the classroom, he serves as the school’s slam poetry coach and runs an organization called Collective Voices for Justice a club training students in the principles of community organizing and activism.
To take all of this a step further, Clint Smith now is a doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University with a concentration in Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS). His research interests include critical pedagogy, mass incarceration, the intersection of art and activism, how literacy shapes the formation of adolescent identity, and youth civic education. His intention is to mesh narratives and storytelling with research. As he told Tove K. Danovich for the website Food Politic, “My profession and my work could not exist without poetry and poetry couldn’t exist without the work.” Embracing his multiple passions definitely worked for him. What do you think ?
You can read and see more of his work on his website : http://www.clintsmithiii.com/