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|Vidalia native named Grant Teacher of Year|
Kathy Smith never envisioned herself as a teacher like her mother, Sylvia Strahan, who has been teaching for 34 years, the last 28 in Concordia Parish. She currently teaches at Ferriday Lower.
"I pretty much went to college (Northwestern State) knowing I wasn't going to be a teacher," Smith said. "I went into the field of Political Science with a minor in English."
Soon after marrying her husband, Eric, in November of 2002, Smith received a call from Eric, who was unhappy with his work in New Orleans.
"He called me and said he wanted to be a teacher even though he had never taught before," Kathy said. "He hated his job. He had an agriculture background so he called his high school principal in his hometown of Campti and asked about teaching at Lakeview High."
Smith caught the bug, as well, and both ended up with teaching jobs after earning their degrees in education from Louisiana Tech.
Smith has been an English teacher at Grant High School for five years.
She has adapted to her new career well, being named Grant Parish Teacher of the Year in May.
Grant Parish includes Grant High School, Georgetown High School and Montgomery High School.
Grant High principal Randy Crawford, a former teacher and coach at Monterey and Block high schools, said Smith has great leadership qualities.
"Not only is Kathy a very sound teacher relative to her knowledge and different types of activities and strategies in the way she presents the material, she has a real compassion for teaching and for the children."
Crawford said Smith is involved in several school projects and is the parental involvement coordinator.
"We are really proud of her and we're fortunate to have her," he said.
Smith said her job takes a great deal of planning.
"I asked my mom how she did it because I don't remember her doing lesson plans or grading papers on the weekends like I do," Kathy said. "She told me it becomes old hat and you learn how to adapt. I told her I am ready to get to that point."
While she enjoys teaching, it's a long way from what her former Vidalia classmates predicted for her at the end of their senior year.
"They said I would be President of the United States and Heather Lanius (Malone, the director of Concordia Economic & Industrial Development District) was going to be my vice-president," Smith said.
Smith credits her award to an outstanding support system at Grant.
"We have a lot of committees and a lot of people who pitch in and help," she said.
Smith said two of her biggest influences were former Concordia Parish teacher and current Concordia Parish College & Careeres Transition Coordinator Cheryl Probst and her former English teacher, Kenneth Hathaway at Vidalia High. Hathaway died of a heart attack in 2006.
"Cheryl taught all the kids in our neighborhood," Smith said.
"And I still have a lot of papers Mr. Hathaway gave to us," Smith said. "I try and teach the way he did. He talked to us and really related to the students."
The Smith's have one son, 1-year old Connor.
"I want to be involved in everything he does," Smith said. "My mom was always there for us and helped out in school projects and I want to have that connection. And as a teacher I want to be there for all of my students."
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