During his speech at the Class of 2015 Baccalaureate, Cole Smith challenged Shorecrest to become the best school in the region for coding and computer science. Thanks to Cole’s leadership and advocacy his senior year, Shorecrest is well on its way. Cole was instrumental to the advancement of two coding and digital design courses that are now a regular part of the Shorecrest curriculum. He also worked with a team of classmates to develop an app that will change the way students study. Bound for NYU, Cole reflects on how his teachers at Shorecrest helped to shape his work ethic, to foster his creativity, and to push him out of his comfort zone.
Upon entering Shorecrest in the ninth grade, Cole experienced shock in just the first hour of Dave Field’s Honors Geometry class. “I had never had to study to get an A,” Cole recalled, “but by the end of the first hour I realized the world had changed. Mr. Field had a rapid fire delivery and had sky-high expectations.” Cole chose to rise to the challenge and took advantage of the early morning help sessions Mr. Field offered. Cole insisted, “The work ethic I developed in his class has changed my life.”
That work ethic came in handy when Cole enrolled in Richard Beaton’s AP Micro and Macro Economics classes, stepping completely out of his comfort zone. “The social studies were just not black and white enough for me. I like the models that math and science provide,” remarked Cole. But Mr. Beaton’s passion for his subject and belief in his students made Cole a believer. “He really sparked a love of economics in me,” admitted Cole, explaining that the courses gave him insight into predictable human behavior using economic models. Cole declared, “Mr. Beaton is one of the most memorable teachers.”
While Mr. Beaton helped Cole learn to love a new subject, it was computer science teacher Eric Hunt who ensured that Cole had the resources and support to pursue a subject with which he was already smitten. Mr. Hunt moved Cole from a self-taught gamer to an inspired coder. “Coding is like writing an essay for English,” said Cole. “If not taught properly, coders can slip into habits of using sloppy, simplistic language and slang. Mr. Hunt helped me to kick my bad habits.” During senior year, Cole partnered with classmates John Rightmyer ‘15, K.J. N ‘16 and Matt K ‘16 to create an app that helps students collaborate, review, condense and research text. Called rED, the app was inspired by Shorecrest Middle School students and will be available in the App Store later this year.
Though he sees his future in math and science, Cole is quick to acknowledge the role his arts training has played in his academic success. Remembering former art teacher Mark Runge, Cole stated, “Mr. Runge helped me add a creative side to science. I am much more aware of what the user experiences because of the skills he brought out in me.” Cole has earned two Gold Keys from Scholastic Art for his computer graphics work.
A strong mathematician, dedicated coder and decorated artist, Cole was also a senior leader with the National Championship Sailing Team. In addition, he is known around Shorecrest for his generosity and impressive head of hair. When we asked his friend what superhero Cole would mostly likely be, he wrote, “Cole would be the tooth fairy, and for all I know, he probably actually is because he is so generous and kind.”
Cole will attend NYU in the fall and intends to become a full-fledged New Yorker. His current career goal is to work for a firm like IBM and focus on Artificial Intelligence.
According to Cole, “My lasting memory and lesson from Shorecrest is that if you work hard and stay focused you will succeed.”