There are more than 300 staff members around Rockwood School District who were Rockwood students during their K-12 years. "Then and Now" is a series that highlights some of their stories and what has made Rockwood special to them as both students and educators. Maureen Smith, fourth grade, Fairway Elementary Rockwood Schools Attended: Bowles Elementary
, Vandover Elementary, Stanton Elementary
, Eureka Junior High, Eureka High Grades Attended in Rockwood:
Maureen Smith was in sixth-grade music class when Principal Tom Krebs came in search of a student for a photo opportunity. Media outlets were coming to cover the dedication of the new Stanton Elementary School, and Krebs needed a sixth-grader to pose with him and the school's namesake, longtime Rockwood School District employee Robert Stanton.
Turns out it was Smith's lucky day.
"I happened to be wearing a skirt. That was the only reason I was picked; I was dressed up," Smith said.
As a student, Smith was part of the first class of sixth graders when Stanton opened in 1976. As a teacher, she was part of the first group of educators at Fairway Elementary when it opened in 2004. She has taught in Rockwood since 1993 – with a brief interruption for a move to New York – and her time in the district has overlapped with seven superintendents.
As she prepares to retire in May and bring her distinguished career in education to a close, Smith feels as if she's learned a thing or two about Rockwood.
"It's been my life," Smith said. "You have to love what you do. I've been able to do things in a career that not everybody gets to do."
Smith has taught at Uthoff Valley
, Wild Horse
and Fairway, in first-grade classrooms for the majority of her career. She tells her students that, when she started teaching, dry erase boards weren't even common in classrooms. Forget about computers.
She remembers when district teachers first got internet access. They crashed the server.
"When we all got one computer in our classroom, that was something. Oh boy," she said, with a laugh. "You had to plan way ahead of time. You couldn't just Google something and move on."
Her fourth-grade teacher at Bowles, Ms. Fisher, made a lasting impact on her along with Eureka High drama teacher Judy Smith, with whom she still keeps in touch.
Smith's student teaching supervisor at Ellisville, Judy Berry, pushed her to apply for her first job in Rockwood.
"She was just such a great role model," Smith said. "She helped pave the way for me to get into Rockwood."
Over the years, Smith has expanded on her role as teacher to contribute to the district in numerous ways. She has served as a National Education Association building representative and vice president, and she started the Got Your Back Pack
(GYBP) program for Rockwood students in need.
Smith plans to keep a full plate once her full-time teaching days are over. She wants to increase her involvement with the ASPCA and Even Chance Pitbull Rescue, and she will continue to volunteer at GYBP and as an OASIS tutor
She may be retiring, but she's not leaving Rockwood.
"The kids are my favorite part of the job," Smith said. "It's the one thing I know I'm going to miss most: working with kids and all the things they think of."