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MDUSD Profile - Spencer Smith

Spencer Smith

Mt. Diablo High School U.S. History Teacher

United States Marine Corps.


Where do you hail from?

The bayous of New Orleans.


How long you’ve been teaching at Mt. Diablo High School?

I am beginning my second year here. 


You are a veteran-turned-educator, and we salute both forms of public service.  Tell us about your military experiences and history.

I enlisted in the USMC when I was in high school. I am proud to serve. The corps supported and nurtured my belief in myself and helped me understand what it really means when a true Marine says "Semper Fi".


What sort of expectations did you have prior to going into the service?

Could this skinny, four-eyed kid make into the most elite, well-disciplined, most honorable fight unit ever created?


How did real life match up?

It taught me that America is an idea, a "grand experiment" that does not exist in most places around the world. That this country knows it is not perfect but that we do not submit to failure, ignorance, and injustice but roll-up our sleeves and do the tough job of making the world a better place. 


What were some of the more rewarding aspects of your service experience and, conversely, some of the more challenging aspects? 

The most challenging aspect was learning to respect the views, opinions, and beliefs of other people in the world. To realize that making a great nation, you must take the best the world offers you, you take the best ideas from Afghanistan to Zambia. We stand with the weak, the old, the defenseless…those fleeing persecution.


The most rewarding aspect was gaining the understanding of what service can mean to others. How people can be touched by the kindness of others. I guess I would sum it up as having a commitment to honor and Ideas that enhance the worth of the individual.


How did your service experience influence or form the adult you are now?  

It made history real for me. It me appreciative of the wonderful diversity we enjoy and also how you cannot control anything but yourself.


What drew you to education, and what was appealing about teaching social studies?

History requires us to communicate ideas, beliefs, and traditions to others in a variety of ways. It’s understanding the questions but also understanding that the answers are not mathematical but complex and illogical at times, like when the 14th Amendment does not apply to Natives and women.


What has been a recent “a-ha” moment in your classroom – where you saw the proverbial light go off with a student?  

When students ask “why”? Like the 14th Amendment, and when they see patterns like the discussion of the 14th Amendment today.


What is the most rewarding aspect of being a classroom teacher? 

When students use and apply what they learned to make the world a better place to live in and when they come back years later understanding that I teach today for tomorrow’s problems because history will repeat itself until everyone changes themselves for the positive.


What are you reading now?

Saving Capitalism. Robert B. Reich & Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World


What would you like your students to be able to say about their experience in your classroom and their relationship with you as a teacher and mentor? 

I learned (positive statement) ____________in Mr. Smith’s classroom.


What makes you #MDUSDProud?

I am proud of working at MDHS because of the students who struggle to improve their and their parents' lives, the staff (not just teachers, staff and admin) because "Mount Diablo High School make good teachers into great teachers." We move mountains at Mount!!! And we adapt and overcome to continue to advance 'real" education.



Spencer Smith