Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith is known as the science guy at Bountiful Junior High.

"I love to see that look in a student's eye when something finally makes sense and when they figure something out for themselves — that's when you can see the confidence start to grow," Smith said. "The potential that an educator has to make such huge impact in the lives of students — you'd be crazy not to take advantage of that."

School leaders say he is a demanding and challenging teacher — he really knows his stuff — but he is also loved by the students.

"He's not the sit-and-lecture kind of guy, he does a lot of hands-on, also uses scientific approaches to solving problems and lets kids draw their own conclusions," said Steve Lindsay, Bountiful's principal. "At junior high level, it's always

'How come I need to know this?' (Smith) makes that connection to their everyday lives and finds relevance in things."

Lindsay said Smith is constantly going the extra mile, sponsoring the school's Science Olympiad team, teaching a special class aimed at helping kids who struggle, and heading up the school's Staff Study Committee, which is charged with making a wide range of decisions within the school.

Smith said what keeps him coming back to the classroom is the potential to positively affect students in ways his teachers affected him when he was in school.