Yesterday, I attended the funeral for a friend, teacher, and former colleague. Faye Smith was someone that you would not forget once you met her. She had a broad smile, a great laugh, and an infectious love for life and people.
As I listened to her sons each speak about their mother and also heard from another former colleague who gave an overview of Smitty's career, I was humbled by her impact on those with whom she came in contact. I knew of some of the fun antics...the raisin costume and leading other staff in the fun of a pep assembly and the way she had to make everyone laugh and have a good time, but I learned new things about this remarkable person.
I didn't realize that she had been the first African American female teacher in the district or that she had been the first female to finish her teaching responsibilities while pregnant or that she got her ESOL certification or that she went back to get a second Masters degree in special education. My goodness what this vivacious woman had gone through and had achieved. All in all, she had a ferocious love of teaching and education, and it showed through everything she did to make sure she could reach as many students as possible.
The real thing that was so amazing, however, on top of everything else was her love for making people feel valuable and loved. She gave out small candy boxes to people all of the time, just "a little something," to make them happy. Her sons and her colleagues talked of her giving these boxes to friends, students, waiters and waitresses, everyone and anyone. She was even known to bring them for all of her retired co-teachers group who met (at her direction) once a month to keep in touch and share their lives and would proceed to give the boxes to not only her friends, but everyone around including the restaurant workers. At the funeral yesterday, there was a table at the back of the chapel, and it was covered in little, decorative boxes of all colors, designs, and shapes. All were filled with chocolate treats. We were asked to take a box from the table as a last message from Faye.
The box I took was one that caught my eye first. If you visit my Teacher Education lab at CAPS, you
will see it on a shelf...a constant reminder of Faye and what she taught me and everyone about doing just a little bit extra out of your way to make people feel special and to spread kindness.
Thank you, Faye.