Educator Spotlight: Peggy Smith, 36 years at LASD. 

April 18, 2022

Educator Spotlight: Peggy Smith, 36 years at LASD. 

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, Staff Writer.

Educator Spotlight is a presentation of is a presentation of Smith & Eddy Insurance, with offices in Scottville and Manistee, offering discounts for MEA members and school employees.

LUDINGTON – When Ludington Elementary School secretary, Peggy Smith’s son entered kindergarten, essentially she returned to school as well.

“I started out as a volunteer in my son’s classroom in 1986,” she said. “I have worked in the schools ever since then. I then started subbing in 1987 and subbed all positions at LASD, except for driving a bus and working in the kitchen at the high school. In 1988, I was hired as a playground aide and a lunch server at Pere Marquette Elementary. The following year, LASD started up computer labs at Franklin and Foster schools. I was awarded the computer job at Franklin. Then two years later, I moved over to Foster to the computer lab job there. I was in that position for seven years before moving to Franklin in January 1998, where I remained until they closed the school down.”

Smith now is one of the secretaries at the new elementary school, but even with a new location, she still does a lot of the same jobs, just now with a lot more kids.

A 1973 graduate of Ludington High School, Smith then attended Michigan State University for three years and then returned home to Ludington and got married. She said she has always enjoyed working with children and stated that there really isn’t anywhere she would want to be working.

“I have always loved children and started babysitting when I was 12-years-old,” she said. “I looked for an opportunity to work when my children were in school and the ability to be home when they were off.  Working in the schools allowed me to do this. It also got me back into working with children. I have loved all the staff I have worked with. My job allowed me to interact with students. I was able to see my children’s progress as they went through elementary school as well.”

With over 30 years experience in the educational world, Smith has seen a lot of things and met a lot of people, whether it be students, staff or families. She said many things have changed over the years while working, too.

“Education and family dynamics have changed greatly over the last 30 years. What we saw years ago, isn’t the same necessarily, but we still are doing the work behind the scenes to assist families, staff and the students. Helping them in the ways we can has always been important to me.”

Knowing that it takes a village to help all the students at the elementary school, Smith stated that if she were to give any advice to those interested in pursuing a career, she would remind them that there’s always more to teaching than meets the eye.

“Anyone going into education should be aware that education isn’t just affected by what happens in the classroom,” she said. “It’s also affected by what happens in students’ lives outside of the classroom, too.”

The COVID-19 pandemic really showed all educators what really goes on in their student’s lives. Being out of the school buildings and being stuck at home, completing school work shined light on what students and their families were dealing with during the pandemic and when they returned to school, many of them still had struggles that made day to day activities harder to accomplish and cope with.

“There was a divide over those parents who wanted their student in school maskless and those parents who wanted their child home,” Smith said. “It was tough on the children to learn remotely when parents were still working. There was also problems with children being able to get online to do the work. Then when we all came back, students were at different levels of academics. This was hard for the teachers to try to get them all back at the same level.”

All in all, Smith has worked through a variety of circumstances during her career in Ludington, but with all the kindergarten through fifth graders being in one building hasn’t necessarily been the hardest, but it definitely hasn’t been the easiest, especially since the number of students she deals with now has basically doubled.

“Working at the school has been good,” she said. “Trying to figure out who all the new children are from the other buildings have been tough. But it has been fun to reconnect with former Franklin students.”

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