In two surprise ceremonies, Sweigart was named the district’s 2014 teacher of the year while Smith was named the 2014 principal of the year.
“It’s just nice to be recognized for so much hard work and effort that teachers are putting in every day,” Sweigart said.
She started at Hillside in 2009 where she has taught third and fourth grade and Early Intervention Program classes extending into fifth grade. Overall, Sweigart has been teaching for 14 years in a variety of settings.
She said the most rewarding aspect of her job is watching students blossom throughout the school year. The most challenging thing is catering to a variety of educational levels in one classroom.
“In general, I may have kids reading anywhere from a first-grade reading level up to a 10th-grade reading level,” Sweigart said. “The challenge is meeting the needs of all those students where they are.” As a teacher, she said she tries to look at each student as an individual, focus on their strengths and help them grow in areas where they need improvement.
Smith, who has been principal at Roswell North since 2010, expressed similar sentiments about the way she approaches educating children.
“If we’re giving each child what they need to have their own individual lift, then everybody is engaged and everybody is supported and feels successful and then can be successful,” she said.
Smith said the most rewarding aspect of her job is seeing how the entire community comes together to support the school and its students.
“What keeps me up at night are the faces of the children … that are hungry, the ones that are homeless, the ones that need more,” she said.
Smith started her career with the school system in 1995 as a first grade teacher at Crabapple Crossing Elementary School in Milton.