Featured Teacher: Mrs. Smallbeck at Bismarck High School

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 7:37 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - This weekend, Bismarck High School’s Science Bowl Team competed in the statewide tournament at the University of Mary. They were led by Mrs. Valerie Smallbeck. She’s an AP biology, general biology and chemistry teacher at Bismarck High. She’s also this week’s Featured Teacher on Country Morning Today.

“I really thrive off of the kids,” Mrs. Smallbeck said.

If biology is the study of life and Mrs. Smallbeck has been teaching it for at least 36 years, then her AP bio class at Bismarck High is where life’s lessons are learned.

“It amazes me every day at how bright some of those kids are and how bright all of them are, but they don’t realize it yet,” she said.

The science curriculum alone will push students to their limits of understanding. But her way of teaching helps them realize how much more they may be capable of.

“I think Smallbeck’s class definitely taught me the kind of rigor that I’m going to be facing in these higher-level classes. I developed strategies so I can tackle the difficulty more efficiently and probably developed my love of STEM beyond what it was before,” Louis Belanger, a senior, said of his experience in Mrs. Smallbeck’s class.

She tells us she loves the challenge of getting students to become interested in the subject that interests her so much. That passion translates to her students.

“It’s definitely different from a lot of teachers,” Ethan Thurn, a sophomore, said about her style of teaching. “She really cares about her teaching and wants her students to be successful and it definitely shows with how she teaches.”

Though she’s been teaching her entire adult life, Mrs. Smallbeck says she never holds any two students to the same expectations. She says each person faces a unique set of circumstances.

“I hold out hope that this is where they’re going to reach. And some of them do. Some of them exceed where I drew the line in the sand. Some of them need me to help them across it,” she explained.

That’s the experience Ethan Thurn said he has had with Mrs. Smallbeck’s instruction.

“I probably wouldn’t be where I am today and wouldn’t have the opportunities for the future if it weren’t for her,” he said.

Mrs. Smallbeck tells us she loves when students share their success with her.

“I hope that it makes them want to do more,” she said. “I don’t want them to give up.”

Mrs. Smallbeck transitioned away from the Science Bowl team this year to focus more of her efforts on the BHS Envirothon team, which hopes to compete at State in May. The team also hopes to compete internationally in Canada. If you would like to help make the trip possible, please reach out to Bismarck High School.

If you have a teacher you’d like to see recognized in Country Morning Today’s Featured Teacher series, please send an email to hope.sisk@kfyrtv.com.