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  • Writer's pictureAva Taylor

Saying Goodbye to Ms. Smith

Where do I begin…

It’s difficult to summarize the impact that Ms. Smith has had on students throughout their journey and her four years at Parker School. She is a kindhearted, supportive, and wise person. Ms. Smith has an infectious personality and enthusiastic passion for English that makes it almost impossible not to be excited for her class.

I interviewed Ms. Smith early Wednesday morning. I asked her questions ranging from topics of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” to what she has learned as an English teacher.

As some students know, Ms. Smith is an avid Taylor Swift fan. I asked her what her favorite Taylor Swift album is and she thinks that she has “one for each sort of mood.” She loves “Lover for all of its pop songs like ‘Afterglow’, ‘Cornelia Street’, [and] ‘False God’…that trilogy is incredible.” However, her ultimate favorites are Red (not Taylor’s Version) and Folklore. She recalls listening to Folklore most of quarantine in 2020. Moreover, Ms. Smith connects with Taylor Swift because she “talks so specifically about her own experiences that aren’t specific to me and my memories, but she is still able to speak to so many [people].” It is “so interesting to see her take such a different direction yet remain so quintessentially Taylor Swift.”

Not only is Ms. Smith a Taylor Swift fan, but one of her favorite TV shows is “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” which she doesn’t think is a guilty pleasure because she doesn’t believe in guilty pleasures. To put it simply, Ms. Smith learned that “all religions have elements of cults in them.” She adds that “reality TV is not just one thing.” For example, in “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City”, one moment it is “indulgent and chaotic, but then there will be a raw conversation about a woman leaving a mormon church” said Ms. Smith. There is “so much complexity within the experience that applies to me as a person,” she also adds. If you haven’t watched “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City”, Ms. Smith highly recommends it.

On a more serious note, “Studying and teaching literature has taught me so much” said Ms. Smith. “One of things that I love about novels and fiction in general is the ability for it to generate this radical empathy,” she said. “In our country, there's a real lack of empathy…real compassion issue and empathy problem happening, and what ] love about literature is that it allows you just for 300 pages or 4 hours, or however long it is, to not just know someone else, but to feel them feel how they feel, see through their eyes.” Ms. Smith said she loves “literature for the escape of it;

how it allows you to travel the world, live 100 different lives, and remain in one place.” It has just “taught me so much on how to be a good person in the world and how to be someone you are proud of being.” Students should take away the fact that “the study of literature is so important; but more than that it's like the study of stories, the study of a comic strip, or a television episode, any little piece, I want students to know that they can apply the same close reading analysis skills [into] everything we see” said Ms. Smith.

Her favorite memory from Parker is last year’s graduation. She recalls that “it was such a special experience because it was 10 years after I graduated high school, it was like my first class and seeing them graduate was special.”

If she had to recommend a book to somebody who has never read a book before, she would “recommend Sherman Alexie’s Diary of a Part-Time Indian because it is so meaningful but it’s very readable and funny and a blend of dark and light.”

Ms. Smith’s favorite Parker tradition is graduation. She remembers sitting in the audience, just crying, while “watching the families go up on stage and the graduates giving the lei to their parents and family members.” She also loves campout, like many students at Parker. “The traditions to some extent are for the students more than the teachers. I like the ones where the students are having a good time…they just enjoy themselves” said Ms. Smith.

Ms. Smith is going to miss the class of 2024. She said that she is going to miss her students and “seeing so many people realize that they are good at English, [that] they can do it and they do love it.” “I will miss being able to see them everyday but I feel happy and reassured to know that technology allows us to be in each other's lives all the time,” said Ms. Smith.

Throughout her four years at Parker, she has learned a lot about herself from her students. “One of the things that my students have taught me is that there’s so much that happens that is not personal” said Ms. Smith. “It’s not about you, it is not about how someone feels about you, it’s about them. I think it’s really easy as a teacher to feel like it’s all about you. It’s easy to take things personally when you’re working with teenagers, but you guys are teenagers.” She has “learned to let go of a lot of preconceived notions and [her] tendencies to spiral and to take things personally.”

Parker has taught her that she loves teaching. She reminisced about her time before Parker School, saying that “I came to Parker thinking ‘let me try it’, let’s see what happens, let’s see if I like it and I didn't think I would love it. Parker students have taught me that I love teaching and I can't see myself doing anything else. It’s really easy to teach Parker students because there's an ability to connect.”

Ms. Smith summed up the epitome of our school well by saying that “Parker is at its best when people are connected to each other. That’s one of the things that I have been taught by my students and one of the things I'll miss the most about Parker.” Ms. Smith simply embodies what Parker School is and what we love about our teachers. She is excited to teach, to help students grow, and to help them find themselves in the midst of the confusing age of adolescence.

“Ms. Smith is a rare teacher” as said by one of her students. People like her motivate and support students, and encourage them to be the best version of themselves. Not only is Ms. Smith an amazing teacher, but “she makes you feel valued and important and always has the best advice,” said a student. Students can confidently say that long after they leave her classroom for the final time, they will have immense gratitude for the confidence that she instilled in them, not only in the classroom, but for the rest of their lives.

Ms. Smith is one of a kind and will be dearly missed by the Parker School Community.

We love you Ms. Smith!

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1 Comment

Melinda Mizuno
Melinda Mizuno
May 17, 2022

Our family is grateful for the impact and influence Ms. Smith has had - by teaching our daughter she impacted our whole family! Thank you Ms. Smith, for allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your students and giving them the safe space to be vulnerable, too. You have a gift and we're so proud that you realized that at Parker.

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