Barnaby Smith KW Harvey Bright Light Educator


Barnaby Smith graduated from high school in Lewistown, Montana. He attended Concordia College in Minnesota, pursuing art education. “I enjoyed helping others learn new things and art is one subject that encompassed all other subjects as a visual and tactile expression,” he said. He likes working with his hands and found a love of working with children through a summer camp experience. Over his career he has taught students in Nevada, Iowa, Missouri, and Montana, starting in Ronan in 2010. He said, “One of my foundational educational philosophies that originated while taking college art classes is: Why couldn’t I have this level of artistic growth and exploration when I was younger? Stone carving, metal
work, printmaking, ceramics etc. This directed my energies when teaching high school students and continued to influence me when I began teaching elementary students in Ronan.” Smith had another educational philosophical epiphany that continues to guide his work. “Kids can do it. They can do amazing things unless you tell them that it is too hard for them. Do not lower the bar and they will reach for it.”


Imagination! Expression! Reflection! The foundational elements of inspiring young minds takes patience, vision, and a sense of commitment.  As a teacher for younger students, the role changes every minute, every hour, every day.  A good educator responds to the shifting emotional state and intellectual development.  This teacher is one of those individuals who has the ability to recognize each student’s needs and respond with encouragement and support.  Helping young minds connect to their creative spirit takes a person who understands the discovery of pure learning.  As an art teacher, Barnaby Smith is just such an educator.  His enthusiasm is infectious. His approach to learning, experiential. His vision, uplifting. Students find their own potential in a fun environment where the teaching is subtle and the chance for discovery, impactful. 

Lessons from his education and as a father give him a perspective about learning which is realistic and well informed.  Art is not an abstract practice in Mr. Smith’s classroom, but a full on mind and body activity. He believes in opening minds with a view on what can be done rather than what might happen.  In his own words, Mr. Smith explained, “Art does not end at the art room door. It should not end as we grow older. Having things around you that are examples of hard work and give you the feeling of “Wow! I made that.” can encourage you to do more in your future.”

Each day, his gifts enrich the lives of children he teaches and illustrate why he is a Big Sky, Bright Lights Educator Honoree for 2023. 

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