Wisdom Wednesday: Morgan Smith

I’m about two weeks late on my March Wisdom Wednesday person, but it’s been a crazy month, and better late than never, right? I decided for this month’s Wisdom Wednesday person I would ask her direct questions and do a sort of question and answer session. However, I will fill in with a few personal feelings in between. I met this month’s Wisdom Wednesday pick, Morgan Smith, my freshman year of college at, Loyola University Chicago. I don’t quite remember when we met exactly, but I want to say it was in one of my sociology classes. Although I can’t remember the exact time and place where we met, I remember thinking she was a sweetheart. Every once in a while we meet people who give us genuinely positive vibes, and she was one of those people for me. As I explain a little bit more about who she is, what she does, and what she stands for, you will soon see how my general instinct of Morgan couldn’t have been more correct.

Question 1: What made you want to be a teacher?

Answer: “I’ve wanted to be a teacher my whole life. Teaching is in my blood. My great-grandmother used to teach kindergarten through 8th grade in a one room school-house in rural west Virginia. My grandmother and mother are both educators as well. It was something that I just fell into, and always knew I would end up doing it. If you were to ask my younger brother, he’d probably say that I just like bossing people around.

I would say teaching is in her blood as well. This is a picture of Ms. Smith during Christmas time. I don’t know about you, but she would’ve been my favorite teacher, ever, simply for dressing up as Miss Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch. And she did pretty good if I must say so myself!

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Question 2: What is your favorite moment so far since being a teacher?

Answer: “I’ve had lots of favorite moments as a teacher…it’s hard to pin point one. So many of them are seemingly insignificant moments that others would deem ordinary. A few of my favorites have been watching my students’ faces as they got to look out at their beautiful city from the Willis Tower after the entire field trip had been funded by friends of mine. Every single third grader in my school was able to go on a field trip that would have otherwise been too expensive for them to go on. Watching them witness the sights from 103 stories up was incredible. Another favorite moment of mine (more funny than anything) has to be when I was sitting in the rocking chair during a reading lesson, and a student right at my feet kept interrupting saying it smelled like Ruffles (chips). I asked him to be quiet, but you could tell he was trying to figure out where it was coming from. He kept leaning towards my feet (I was wearing leather flats) and sniffing and saying, “Mmmm! I want some Ruffles!” It took me a minute to realize he was smelling my shoes and I tried not to laugh. I felt so bad that this boy was salivating over the smell of my shoes that the next day I brought him a bag of Ruffles and put it in his mailbox. He came up and gave me a hug. I honestly could find a moment in every single day that could be considered a favorite!
One of my personal favorite Facebook moments of Ms. Smith’s class was seeing her buy all of the fleece fabric on Black Friday last year, to make each student a personal blanket for their Christmas gifts. Seeing someone take that much time to do what would be such a simple gesture to others, I’m sure meant the world to those kids. The cover photo is a picture of Ms. Smith posing with the class as they’re wrapped up in their new Christmas present blankets. 

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Question 3: What has been your most challenging moment?

Answer: “There are so many moments in teaching that challenge you. Moments that challenge your patience, emotions, and physical body. When I first began teaching I had one of the toughest behavior challenges in my class. A cute little girl, who at the flip of a switch could lash out violently against me or other students. It got so bad several times that desks would be overturned, and I would end up with handprints on my arms. I was so physically and emotionally exhausted from not only being a first year teacher, but trying to figure out how to teach 25 other kids with this girl in my class, that I began to get sick. I was throwing up before school every day, getting hives all over my body…I didn’t think I was cut out to be a teacher any more. Then my mom sent me a quote, “Students who are loved at home, come to school to learn. And students who aren’t come to school to be loved.” That quote changed my outlook on teaching students with behavior issues. So many of them are going through unimaginable situations at home, and I have to remind myself that they are acting out because they need extra doses of love throughout the day.

Another Facebook moment of Ms. Smith’s shows no matter how hard these kids may have it in life, and no matter if they may not say out loud to their teachers that they’re changing their lives, they will always express it in some way. Here is an example of a note Ms. Smith confiscated from a student who was passing it to their friend during class. I remember her captioning it and saying she couldn’t even be mad when the note says something as amazing as this..

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Question 4: What is the most important lesson you want your students to take away from your class?

Answer: “They are special. They are loved. They are capable. They are smart. Despite the backgrounds, home lives, socioeconomic statuses, and zip codes of my students…I believe 110% that I’ve taught at least one future president, neurosurgeon, Broadway actor, and entrepreneur. My students amaze me daily at their resiliency and drive to do better than the day before. I honestly don’t care if my students remember their multiplication facts (although I believe it’s a necessary skill), I don’t care if they learn to spell perfectly. I want them to remember me the same way that I remember my favorite teachers…that they were loved, and that they were pushed to be better versions of themselves. I want them to walk away from my class knowing that they are capable of anything as long as they put in hard work…even though they might have to work 10 times as hard (as unfair as it may be) than their suburban, white, counterparts.

Morgan’s answer to the last question is what made me want to make her my March Wisdom Wednesday, person. If the world had more people who cared about other’s well-being as much as she does, it would be a much better place. We need a Ms. Smith (soon to be Mrs. Shah) in every classroom around the world.

I have been abundantly blessed to know many amazing people in my only 26 years of life, and I’m happy Morgan Smith is one of them 🙂

Brie <3

[03.25.15]

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