Smith’s long career came to a close with a retirement party to celebrate her dedication and her lengthy devotion to the teaching profession.
Many students have been taught by Smith during her tenure in education. She considers teaching at Stuart Elementary an adventure where the students, parents, faculty and staff have filled her days with blessings.
“Stuart is an awesome place to work, to learn and to grow into the person God wants each of us to become,” said Smith.
Smith affectionately named her class the “Smith’s Saints.” Her well-known classroom motto has been, “Once a Smith Saint, always a Smith Saint.”
According to Smith’s Room Mom Christie Brown, Smith has been a beloved teacher who has poured her heart into her students.
“She is the type of teacher anyone would want for their child,” said Brown, whose daughter Ashley just completed the first grade in Smith’s final class.
To show appreciation and gratitude for her service, Brown, organized a surprise retirement celebration to give students, parents and the school family a chance to wish her well.
In her honor a Yoshino Cherry Tree was planted in the school’s butterfly garden representing the beauty and the strength Smith brought to the lives of others and to the school. A plaque, gift card and photo memory box were also presented to Smith, but the thing she marveled most was the sentimental, handmade tablecloth displaying the colorful stamped handprint of each of her saints.
“We managed to keep the retirement party and the tablecloth a secret until the day of the party,” said Brown. “With excited first-grade students, keeping a secret can be hard but we pulled it off.”
Smith said the gifts were wonderful and she was amazed they kept all of the plans and surprises a secret. The outpouring of love and the thoughtfulness humbled her, she added.
While all of her classes have been special, Smith said the last class is very special.
“I am honored to have been a part of the children’s educational journey. These angels have certainty made me a better person because they have kept me on my toes everyday. They have brought smiles, hugs, questions, answers, the desire to learn, the desire to please and the desire to succeed every time they entered room number 10 at George R. Stuart School,” said Smith.
The “precious little angels” who make each day special is what Smith said she will miss the most. Her plans are to travel leisurely with her family and go on mission trips. There’s a long list of books and reading material she hopes to get caught up on and in-between the reading she’s going to learn how to sell things on eBay, challenge herself with guitar lessons, keep her house spotless and keep up with the Smith Saints as they grow and mature into men and women.
When the time comes for the Saints to walk across the graduation stages, she hopes she receives an invitation.
According to Smith, character is often inherited, learned and sometimes caught. She is convinced the character of the Stuart Elementary family is a model for others.
“It is an awesome place to work, learn and grow into the people God wants each of us to become. It’s been a fantastic journey.” said Smith.