But his presentation was cut short when Supt. Michael Escalante of the Glendale Unified School District told him that he was getting the Delmonte Award.
The Glendale Chamber of Commerce-sponsored award is given to five teachers in the district and a Glendale Community College professor every year. So far this year, Smith was the third teacher to get the award.
“We are extremely excited for him,” said his wife, Charlotte Smith.
The chamber has awarded teachers who have demonstrated a high quality of teaching skills and were respected by their colleagues.
John Delmonte was a former Glendale businessman and member of the chamber’s Education Committee when he established the award program in 1980 because he believed his four children received an exceptional education at the district’s schools. In 1992, the award was named after Delmonte following his untimely death.
“We feel our teachers are providing the future business leaders and leaders in general,” chamber Executive Director Judee Kendall said. “We appreciate them and what they do.”
Kendall and school board President Joylene Wagner presented Smith with the Delmonte Award.
For Wagner, Smith embodies a person who is committed to his work and school, she said.
Before becoming a teacher, Smith worked as an aircraft radio and navigation technician in the U.S. Air Force, and as an electrician, engineer and Brunswick automatic pin-setting machine mechanic.
With an industrial technology degree, Smith began teaching TV and computer repair, electronics, science, driver’s training and computer-aided drafting at Crescenta Valley High School about 40 years ago.
He moved to La Crescenta because he said he heard the district had excellent educational programs and wanted to enroll his two daughters in Glendale schools.
Smith started teaching in 1998 at Clark Magnet, where he established technical educational programs such as the technology literacy class, which helped ninth-grade students learn about the technology of electronics.
He traveled to Pittsburgh last year to learn about the ALICE software program and launched a yearlong programming class based on the software this year.
One of Smith’s hobbies is traveling to different universities throughout the country and buying books from their libraries.
“I love going to school and learning different things,” he said.
Back in his classroom, Smith said, he often urges his students to push themselves to improve.
“You give me your very best, and I am going to do my best to keep helping you out,” he said.