Smith retires from teaching

Published 6:20 pm Sunday, July 13, 2008

Augusta, Ga. — As a young girl living in rural Demopolis on Range Line Road, Susie M. Jones-Smith knew that one day she would be a teacher. She attended George P. Austin Elementary and High School in Linden, and upon graduation in 1969, she attended Florida A & M University on a home economics scholarship. Later she transferred to Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.

Smith’s motto is: “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.” And achieve it she did! On May 15, 2008, she retired from public education after devoting more than 33 years to the children of the Richmond County Public School System in Augusta. The ceremony was held at the Marriott Riverfront Hotel.

Susie earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Jackson State University, and a masters degree in education with a concentration in creative arts and learning from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. At Lesley, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA.

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Her first teaching position in 1973 was a seventh grade science teacher in Shorter, with the Macon County School System in Tuskegee. In 1977, she moved to Augusta.

Unlike many teachers in the profession, her entire career after moving to Georgia was spent at Monte Sano Elementary. There, she taught 4th grade language arts and social studies. She held numerous positions such as grade chairperson, team leader, mentor teacher for Paine College and Augusta State University Student Teachers, advisor of the oratorical team, science fair coordinator, PTSA fourth-grade sponsor, and recently the 2007-08 student council advisor. As a successful classroom teacher and master motivator, Smith’ kept her students’ scores at or above the state level on the CRCT. These students scored in the 96th percentile in 2008. Her school has made AYP each year since the inception of the No Child Left Behind program. She has maintained the passion needed to encourage and motivate students to acquire the maximum results in education.

Mrs. Smith was instrumental in providing pen pals to senior citizens at area nursing homes and the Augusta VA Hospital. Additionally, her classes donated can goods annually to the Golden Harvest Food Bank and needy families throughout the Augusta area. Also, they participated in the Christmas Toys for Tots Give-A-Way. To make sure her classes remained informed; she took them on a tour of CNN Center and the gravesites of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. and Coretta Scott-King and Dr. King’s childhood home. The tour was two weeks after the tornado touched down in Atlanta earlier this year.

Among some of her most notable honors include being named Monte Sano Elementary School “Teacher of the Year” in 1991; “Golden Apple Teaching Award Winner in 1996; Outstanding Teaching Award in 2008; Outstanding Young Women of America 1983; National Science Scholar; certificate of appreciation for 33-and-a-half years of service to the Richmond County Public School System; plaque for years of dedicated service to Monte Sano Elementary School from 1977-2008; and a certificate of appreciation from the Augusta Branch NAACP.

Smith credits teachers like Eddas King-Easley for providing her with the essential tools and guidance necessary to pursue a career in teaching. Like some others, Smith is reminded how difficult it was for her to get a good education. However, one thing she’s very proud of is that quitting school or not accomplishing her goal was not an option. In Addition, she credits her husband and children for being a driving force of encouragement throughout her career.

She is a member of the New Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Augusta where the the Rev. Dr. James A. Hogan, Sr. is the pastor. At New Zion, she served as the vice-president of the Willing Workers, and the new membership committee. She loves sports and takes pride in sharing and caring for friends and family.

She is married to her husband of 38 years, Dr. Charles J. Smith of Demopolis, who is affectionately known as “Skeebow.” They are proud parents of two children and eight grandchildren. The couple has one son, Charles J. Smith Jr., and a daughter, Yashica Charnelle Smith, both of Atlanta.

Smith believes that retirement is not the end of active life, but rather the beginning of new and rewarding experiences from God.