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As we enter February, we turn our #MICharterHero spotlight to Cameron Smith, a Secondary Special Education teacher at West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science. Cameron began his journey at WMAES in 2011, a school he said he initially knew little about, but it swiftly evolved into a place he could call home.
“I didn’t know what to expect at first, but I truly fell in love with our school right from the start. I don’t know that I necessarily would have envisioned still being here after all these years, but the inclusive culture we have at WMAES is difficult to give up. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
An active contributor to the inclusive culture he praises, Cameron is more than just a teacher at WMAES. His nomination reflected on a heartfelt story of impact, recalling the experience of a now-senior student. This student initially entered WMAES’s doors with a reserved demeanor, the nomination said, speaking softly, if at all, and avoiding social interaction.
“Over the past four years, Cameron served as this student’s special education teacher, but more importantly, he served as a mentor. Cameron would spend countless lunch periods talking with this student about his passions for European soccer and western movies - which I can assure you are not Cameron's interests. The numerous lunch periods and service time built up the relationship between the two and established more and more confidence within this student. Most recently, he made his capstone presentation and gave a speech to his peers, staff, and family members. His passion for bringing awareness of Native American discrimination was a challenging topic, yet he shared his heart with the world. As I sat and viewed his presentation, the change we have seen in this student has been inspiring. I attribute much of his school and social success to the tireless efforts of Cameron Smith. Cameron has left a footprint on many lives, but none more recent than his.”
Experiences like these are, according to Cameron, the reason he entered Special Education in the first place. He said that working closely with students and addressing their specific needs is what drew him to the field, providing an opportunity he believes would be limited in a traditional classroom setting.
“What drew me into education originally was the chance to connect with people, form relationships, and be able to make a difference in students' lives. There are a lot of different learning styles and needs for students out there, and I felt like the Special Education route would help me better address some of those varying needs.”
From his work both inside and outside of the classroom, Cameron’s story unfolds as a true testament to the impact an educator can have when passion, dedication, and genuine care converge in the pursuit of student empowerment.
Authorized by Central Michigan University and managed by Choice School Associates, West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science is a Pre-K through 12th-grade public charter school located in Walker, MI.
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