Savannah Smith’s passion for travel, teaching and the Spanish language started when she was in high school.
A Spanish teacher at Southeast Guilford High School, Smith applied to Appalachian State University as a N.C. Teaching Fellow and, with influence from her high school Spanish teacher, decided to study Spanish.
She graduated from the Spanish, Education (K-12) program in 2012 and is now pursuing her Master of Arts in Spanish from Appalachian, which she plans to finish in 2016.
Smith returned to Appalachian for graduate school while teaching full time because of how helpful and engaging her Spanish faculty were during her undergraduate education, Smith said.
“Building positive relationships with students is one of the most important parts of being a teacher, and I consider it to be my greatest strength in the classroom,” Smith said. “My professors at Appalachian have modeled that consistently and I think it helped prepare me to assume that role.”
Smith also has been able to pass on her love of travel, and the importance of a global education, to her students.
“Traveling has been a huge part of my life since I was fortunate enough to take a trip with one of my teachers in high school,” Smith said. “I think it’s important for our students to be global citizens and to see other parts of the world.”
Smith studied in Costa Rica at Universidad Veritas during her undergraduate education. She stayed with a family that spoke Spanish while she took classes toward her degree. She also has studied in Spain during graduate school at the University of Salamanca.
Now, Smith takes her own high school students abroad. Together, they have traveled to France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. She is planned a future trip to Europe’s Mediterranean coast.
“For some of these students, my trips are the furthest from home they will ever get,” Smith said. “They need to see how other people live and how societies other than their own function on a daily basis.”
Smith said she hopes that through her trips students increase their willingness to try new things and learn to love travel as she did in high school. “We want our students to be global thinkers, and we can’t instill that mindset in them unless we have it ourselves,” Smith said.