Gadsden State Community College President Dr. Martha Lavender announced that Alan Smith has accepted the position of the dean of Workforce Development. He replaces Tim Green, who retired in October after 33 years of service.
Smith has an accomplished record in education and business beginning with his own training as a student at Etowah High School.
“My agribusiness teacher, Jim Turner, made a positive difference in my life as a student,” he said. “He provided guidance and instruction. He got me interested in learning a skill. I love hands-on instruction, and I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”
Armed with the many skills he learned from Turner, including construction and cabinet making, Smith enrolled at Auburn University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and Economics. Two years later, he received a master’s in Education and began his career as an agriscience teacher at Hokes Bluff High School.
After 11 years as a teacher, he decided to enter the business world as the owner of a construction company and a cabinet-making business. During this time, he saw firsthand the importance of training and education.
“I definitely saw the gap between the people who were looking for jobs and the skills required to get those jobs,” he said. “It made me aware of how students can fall through the cracks and not be ready for the workforce.”
While his business has proven to be successful, Smith returned to teaching in 2012 when he was hired to resurrect the Building Science program at Marshall County Technical School.
“I really missed working with students,” he said. “I wanted to get back into the education field where I could teach students a skill that can one day be a career for them.
“The experience of realizing the vast skills gaps shaped me as an educator. I better understand that, as an educator, we need to do our best to help students succeed so they can be productive members of the workforce and our society.”
In January 2016, Smith was hired as the building construction instructor at the Etowah County Career Technical School, where he taught carpentry, cabinet making, electrical wiring, plumbing and masonry.
In August 2018, Smith earned his master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Alabama. A year later, he was given the added responsibility as the coordinator of Alabama Simulated Workplace for Etowah County Schools. The program shifts technical classrooms into a company setting that introduces students to business processes.
“Students in career technical centers across Alabama are gaining relevant knowledge about what it’s like to be on-the-job,” he said. “We have time clocks. We require the students to have daily safety meetings. Every two weeks, they receive a paystub so they can see what their take-home pay would be. Their rate of pay is based on their skill level just as it would be in the workplace. It gives them a glance into what the real world is like.”
Smith has proven to be an outstanding teacher as evidence by the many accolades he has received throughout his career. In 2000, he was named Alabama’s Most Outstanding Young Agriscience Technology Teacher of the Year. The following year, Hokes Bluff High School named him its Teacher of the Year, and he won the honor for the entire Etowah County system as well. In 2013, he received the Marshall County Technical School Teacher of the Year followed by the Etowah County Career Technical School Teacher of the Year in 2017.
“My career has uniquely qualified me for the dean of Workforce Development position because of my experience and passion for career technical education,” he said. “It’s also a plus that I have many industry connections with different partners and stakeholders in northeast Alabama.”
In addition to his love for students and career education, Smith enjoys traveling and spending time with his family – his wife of almost 20 years, Leah Smith, the librarian at Glencoe Elementary School, and sons, Caleb, 16, and Cooper, 11, both students in Hokes Bluff. He said they are as excited about his new career path as he is.
“My goal at the end of the day has always been to help students develop a skill they can use for the rest of their life,” he said. “I have a heart for helping people achieve their goals. I am proud and my family is proud that I will be able to continue doing that at Gadsden State.”