During Campbell High School’s largest pep rally of the year—the homecoming pep rally—students and staff members paused to honor two Phenomenal Friday Teachers of the Week: James Crawley and Brian Smith.
Typically, when the Cobb County School District Phenomenal Friday crew visits a school, one teacher is selected as the Teacher of the Week. However, Campbell students couldn’t choose just one teacher to crown.
“I selected Coach Crawley as the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week because his words were very inspirational to me,” Campbell senior Carolyn explained. “Even after I [left] his class, he told us he would always be there for us. That was very important to me. I wasn’t just another student to him.”
Campbell senior Brandon announced Brian Smith as the second Teacher of the Week. Smith was the first person Brandon met when he walked into Campbell, and he couldn’t think of a teacher more deserving of the honor.
“He has been there every single day, worrying about what I’m doing, making sure I’m doing the right thing school-wise, football-wise, and life-wise,” Brandon said.
According to Brandon, Smith has always been there for him and his fellow Spartans, even during tough times. Brandon knows that the Campbell Phenomenal Teacher’s influence will endure long after he leaves high school.
Being selected as one of the Teachers of the Week surprised and humbled Smith.
“You come to work every day and try to have an impact on kids. A lot of times, you don’t know how you touch a kid,” Smith said after receiving the Phenomenal Friday honor. “It is an awesome feeling when it comes from the students. They are the ones that you are with in the trenches every day. It makes you feel appreciated. Your work ethic is having an impact on them.”
Smith’s goal is to give his students the foundation they need to be successful inside and outside the classroom.
“I feel this is my purpose—to teach and make sure I’m coming to school with an awesome attitude, and to do my best to try to have a positive influence,” Smith added.
Smith’s fellow Teacher of the Week, James Crawley, also tries to encourage his students to see the positive parts of their teachers and fellow students.
“[Coach Crawley] does this activity where [students] pass a sheet of paper around the whole classroom with their names on it, and everyone writes something positive, nice, or what you like about [the person,]” One of Crawley’s former students Carolyn recalled. “We do one for him as well, and he writes on our [paper]. He has this book full of all the ones he has done over the years. I think that’s sweet.”
Crawley, who is also Campbell High’s Teacher of the Year, tries to make a personal connection with his students. The social studies teacher wants his students to view him as a regular person. He wants them to understand why he chooses to teach.
“Whenever I come into the classroom, I think about the world [my children] are going to live in,” Crawley revealed. “Every day when I’m looking at the students and trying to help them understand concepts and learn, I’m thinking in the back of my mind that what I do in the classroom will create the leaders who are going to be in charge when my children are [my students’] age. So, I have to give my students everything I have because it is the same as giving my two sons everything I have.”
For Crawley, the honor of having a student select him as a Teacher of the Week makes all the long nights and day-to-day challenges that he faces as an educator worth it. The recognition tells him that he is having an impact on his students.
“We do this for the kids,” Crawley declared. “I’m excited to come to work every day. I get fulfillment out of seeing [my students] just be happy, explore new things, learn new things, and have that light bulb go off.”