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GREENFIELD - Whitnall High School biology teacher Cody Smith was awarded the Frank Zuerner New Teacher Scholarship, sponsored by the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers Foundation in recognition of having "extraordinary potential for working with and serving students" in just his second year of teaching.

"I nominated Cody Smith for this award because he is not just an excellent teacher; he is an inspiring teacher," said fellow Whitnall science teacher Jessica Doyle, who nominated Smith "Students leave his classes wanting to learn more and looking forward to science. He makes students feel that they are welcome, capable, and important."

Smith began working at Whitnall two-years ago, after graduating from Carroll University in 2015. He student taught at Whitnall his senior year and was hired full-time at the end of the semester. Smith now teaches honors and advanced placement biology.

Originally thinking that he would graduate to become a doctor when he started college, Smith soon realized his calling lay somewhere else.

"I was still extremely passionate about science and did not want to change my focus entirely," he said. "I have always wanted to give back and work with people, so teaching was a natural fit.

"I am able to spread my love of science and work with people. When I took my first few education classes and completed my first field placement, I knew I had some natural talent and was passionate about this profession.

"I told myself I may not be to a doctor, but I might inspire someone to be."

Though it may be a bit early in his career to see his students become doctors, Smith says he loves the "lightbulb" moments in teaching, where students finally grasp a concept.

"I also love being humbled by what my students can accomplish. I try and teach science from a creative lab/project perspective, and seeing what my students can accomplish and the work that they do really surprises me on a daily basis," Smith said.

In addition to teaching biology, Smith coaches varsity football and wrestling at Whitnall, is a member of the school forest task force and serves as a co-advisor for the science club, which just started this school year.

"Our department and students are exceedingly excited to see where the future takes him," Doyle said. "To say he is deserving of this award would be an understatement."

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