Dr. Smock: Teacher Who Inspires

Shalaka Madge, Online Editor

Recently, Dr. Tom Smock, Morris Hills physics teacher was selected to receive the prestigious Monmouth University Roberts Charitable Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award.

The Monmouth University Roberts Charitable Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award is given to outstanding secondary educators who have played an important role in the education of current Monmouth University students. Dr. Smock was nominated by one of his former students, Jackie Mosca, who just graduated from Monmouth University.

Dr. Smock did not really expect to win since the nomination itself had come late. It was a pleasant surprise for Doc, who said that “the awards that you get that students nominate you for… they’re the most meaningful.”

He started teaching in Florida, where he went to college. After teaching there for seven years, he taught in Basking Ridge for three years, and then finally came to Morris Hills, where he has been educating students for the past twenty years.

There is an interesting story behind Dr. Smock’s becoming a teacher. He explained that he started teaching “kind of by accident.” He attended college with the intention of becoming an engineer, and switched his major to physics after realizing his interest in the physics part of engineering. Through the encouragement of his peers, Dr. Smock became interested in education as well. “I left college thinking I would either be a physicist or a teacher,” he said.

However, the year Dr. Smock graduated college, the space shuttle Challenger, exploded. Following the disaster, there were no physics jobs. He took a job as a teacher and “ended up loving it.”

Sophia Chan, a current student of Dr. Smock said that “Dr. Smock’s class is memorable because of Dr. Smock himself. He’s an extremely great person… His class helps us think outside the box and take on new perspectives on life.”

Dr. Smock responded to this by saying that he doesn’t even recognize the existence of a “box.” “I like to take chances in teaching,” he said. “If that helps students think with new perspectives, then I’m happy with that.” Dr. Smock hopes to get the message across to all his students that they need to worry less about grades and live in the moment.

In his free time, Smock likes to play softball, hang out with fellow teachers, spend time with his wife and kids, and volunteer. He worked with AIDS patients for five years, and currently volunteers for a humanitarian aid organization.

When he has more free time, Dr. Smock wishes to travel. He knows that he is not going to teach forever, saying “I want to find something else that I can do that I really feel good about.”

Dr. Smock will continue to educate students in the ways of physics and in the ways of life. It will be a sad occasion when he leaves, but for the time being, the force of his teaching will overcome students’ inertia and accelerate them toward their goals!