- December 12, 2022
Kelly Smith-Williams has wanted to be a teacher since she was 14 years old.
When the School District of Manatee County named her the 2023 Teacher of the Year Feb. 9, it was a dream come true.
"It was humbling, incredible and overwhelming," said Smith-Williams, who teaches anatomy and physiology at Lakewood Ranch High School. "This is the best thing that's ever happened to me in my career. I wanted this award more than I've wanted anything else throughout my entire teaching career."
Smith-Williams was one of four Teacher of the Year finalists being honored at the district's Excellence in Education Awards at Parrish Community High School.
Lakewood Ranch High students, administrators and staff attended to support Smith-Williams.
Senior Omar Rabah, who nominated Smith-Williams for the award, cheered when she was announced as the winner.
"She genuinely changed my life from me not even knowing if I'm going to stay in school to going into the medical field," Rabah said of Smith-Williams. "She has shown me how important it is for me to be my own person and how to deal with social issues as well."