JTG teachers are called “Specialists” – but really, what we call them are Superstars. This fall, we are featuring all of our superstars from across the state of Tennessee to tell us what JTG means to them and the impact they have on the students that walk into their classrooms each year. This week our Superstar Spotlight is on Daniel Smith of Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.
Daniel Smith, JTG Specialist with Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy, is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in social services helping individuals and families in need set and achieve goals to obtain greater levels of independence. He is known for the ability to motivate others to give their best effort to pursue positive changes in their lives.
Mr. Smith has extensive experience developing strong relationships with students, job seekers and local employers from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. He is passionate about helping students, returning citizens, and vulnerable populations to have an edge in competing for employment in the mainstream of opportunity. According to Mr. Smith, the thing that he loves the most about teaching the JTG curriculum is the opportunity to unite the wisdom gained from his experiences and connect it with the energy of our youth so they will be unstoppable in achieving their goals and in doing good works that will improve our communities and make for a better union.
Mr. Smith states that one of his most memorable experiences as a JTG Specialist was taking four JTG students from Stratford STEM Magnet in Nashville, TN to the National Student Leadership Association conference in Washington, D.C.
He states, “It was amazing to be a part of my students’ first airplane ride and visit to our nation’s capital. We enjoyed riding the subway to get from our 5-Star hotel to the National Mall where we took pictures next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Washington monuments, as well as the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the African American Museum of History and Culture, the United States Capitol ,and the White House. This was one of the outings that provided meaningful exposure in the mainstream of opportunity. This sort of exposure we believe will benefit our students in the future by helping them to choose more positive paths such as staying in school, finding employment, starting their own business or joining the military.”
In his spare time, Mr. Smith enjoys hiking on trails with his grandsons, playing chess, and going to Nashville Predator hockey games.