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Who We Are: Mr. & Mrs. Smith of Micanopy Academy

It’s impossible to go a semester at Micanopy Academy without having Mr. or Mrs. Smith as your teacher. These two teachers make up two-thirds of our English department for our 6th-12th grade students. The journey to teaching for Mr. and Mrs. Smith is unlike any other, as they’ve seemingly lived a 1000 storied lives since coming to work at Micanopy Academy. We’d like to introduce you to Clay and Ann Smith so you’ll see why we say our students are the lucky ones who get to learn from and feel cared for by these inspiring teachers.

Micanopy Academy teachers Clay and Ann Smith feed a baby tiger while visiting in Thailand. The tiger is sitting across their laps while Ann holds a baby bottle to the tiger’s mouth.
Micanopy Academy teachers Clay and Ann Smith feed a baby tiger while visiting Thailand

The road to teaching was a winding path for this pair, that quite literally took them around the world. Ann earned a B.A. and M.B.A from the University of North Florida, as well as a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida and spent 18 years as a trial lawyer. Clay began his career by serving in the USMC (Security Forces) for 6 years and then transitioned to the IT field, working at both NASA (Kennedy Space Center) and the Headquarters of the IRS in Washington D.C. Wanting a change, Clay returned to school and also received a Juris Doctor degree.

Together, Clay and Ann established and ran a successful law firm in Florida for many years. Realizing that they only have one life to live and everything to give, the couple joined the US Peace Corps to serve in Youth Development in Morocco for 4 years. If you ask them, they will say it was this experience that grew their passion for teaching. They loved working with the children in Morocco and decided it was time to make a career switch.

Clay and Ann Smith pose for a photo while visiting the Sahara Desert
Clay and Ann Smith visiting the Sahara Desert

Jetting back to Florida, Clay and Ann obtained Florida teaching certifications (Clay in English & Social Science, Ann in English, Social Studies & Business Education). However, word of their skill and fluency in Arabic got out, and they were soon offered jobs to return to teach in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Some of their fondest memories and most enriching experiences occurred while teaching in a new culture and country.

Ann and Clay Smith pose with a group of students in Morocco during their time in the Peace Corps.
Ann and Clay Smith with a group of students in Morocco during their time in the Peace Corps

After 10 years of traveling, teaching and living overseas, Clay and Ann were ready to return home. But not yet ready to take a break, they were happily persuaded to continue their teaching career here at Micanopy Academy, where they say they plan to stay. They love our small school community, mission and the chance to make a difference in the lives of students. Our students love their commitment to education and the knowledge and wisdom Ann and Clay bring to the classroom.

This dynamic duo is also the brains and teaching power behind our new Civics & Law program set to launch in Fall 2023. From the interesting conversations about law they have with students in Micanopy Academy’s popular Business Law class, Clay and Ann saw a need for high quality civics education. Like in many of their other endeavors in life, they dove head first into planning and came up with something spectacular:

They (students) are looking for answers to practical questions about our rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens. This is an opportunity to honor our students’ desire to learn and provide free access to this vital information.

-Clay Smith

Ann Smith, teacher at Micanopy Academy, offers support to 4 students who are working at a table. There are books and papers on the desk and a bookshelf behind the table.
Ann Smith with some of her students at Micanopy Academy

It’s no surprise that in their free time, Clay and Ann extend their joie-de-vivre to hobbies. Both love spending time with family and their two dogs, Belle and Buddy, as well as dabbling in the garden. Ann is ASA certified to captain a catamaran up to 50’ and also loves cooking and arts & crafts. Clay is a self-professed super geek, avid gamer, and loves to tinker in his workshop.

One final stat about Mr. and Mrs. Smith: At the time of this story, they’ve traveled to over 65 countries each (not collectively!). That’s a commitment to learning, growing and enjoying new cultures that is difficult to match. We feel so fortunate that Mr. and Mrs. Smith bring their zest for learning and living life to the fullest to our students. We know you’ll also love getting to know them–visit our enrollment page to find out how you can get started at our tuition free middle and high school.

About Micanopy Academy

Micanopy Academy is a 6th-12th grade tuition-free public charter school with limitless compassion for guiding students toward a bright future. With small classes, certified teachers, high standards and personalized learning, we’re growing the hearts, minds and futures of students in Micanopy, Florida. Where will a Micanopy Academy education take you? Enroll today and find out.

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