Lyndsey Smith, a senior in the University of North Florida’s Jacksonville Teacher Residency (JTR) program in the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS), was recently honored as the 2018 AmeriCorps Member of the Year.
Volunteer Florida recognized Smith at an April 9 ceremony in Miami out of 1,500 Senior Corps and AmeriCorps members who are currently serving in 34 Florida counties. Smith, a Bartram Park resident who will graduate today with an education degree, is being honored for providing exceptional service to the community and exemplifying Volunteer Florida’s values of service, leadership, collaboration and excellence.
“We are extremely proud of Lyndsey’s selection, as she exemplifies a commitment to service while enacting the core principles of the program,” said Dr. Wanda Lastrapes, JTR AmeriCorps program director. “Her passion and commitment to urban teaching is evident through her knowledge and implementation of relevant and engaging standards-based lessons.”
Smith spearheaded the launch of a Girls on the Run (GOTR) program at Andrew Robinson Elementary School to build her students’ confidence, communication skills and connections with their peers and in the community. The program focuses on values that may not be taught in school: self-esteem, bystander intervention, diffusing anger and other important social skills as well as improving physical health by training to run a 5K race.
“I participated in a GOTR program when I was in third grade,” said Smith. “I took so much out of the program and realized the need for it at Andrew Robinson.”
As part of the JTR program, Smith completed several community service hours, including completing a beautification project on MLK Day, while teaching her students about the importance of service.
Smith currently serves as a UNF COEHS ambassador and has served in leadership positions on campus as communications chair of the UNF chapter of Student Florida Education Association, vice president of a politically affiliated club and resident assistant.
The JTR is a partnership between UNF’s COEHS and Duval County Public Schools, supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the National Science Foundation and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. The program is currently preparing its fifth cohort of teachers for urban classrooms.
The mission of the JTR program is to recruit, prepare and retain a diverse population of highly effective teachers who serve in high-needs schools to ensure that Duval County students are college and career ready.