Teacher Throwback: Rachel Smith

English teacher Rachel Smith posed for her senior photos back in 2010.

English teacher Rachel Smith posed for her senior photos back in 2010.

Hannah Denne, Staff Writer

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Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I moved around a lot. I finished my junior and senior years in Olathe, Kan., but just before that in my sophomore year, I lived in McAllister, Okla.. My freshman year I went to Washburn Rural in Topeka.

Q: What years were you in high school?

A: From fall of 2005 to spring of 2010.

Q: What was your favorite class that you took?

A: Definitely English literature. I also took a creative writing class, and I loved that.”

Q: What “clique” would you say you fit into in high school?

A: I didn’t fit in in high school. I had a small group of friends, so, I guess – smart kids, good kids, liked-to-talk-to-teacher kids. I played tennis, but my little sister was on tennis with me. So I wasn’t, like, one of the tennis kids. It was me and my sister on a doubles team.

Q: What could you commonly be found doing after school?

A: Playing tennis! Apart from that I watched so much NCIS in high school… so much NCIS. I watched a ton of TV and played outside – but that was more when I was younger. Hanging out with friends eventually, but that was more when I was older, not really until my junior year when I could drive myself around.

Q: How did moving around a lot influence you?

A: I don’t think I really knew what friendship was until college. At all. In high school – I feel like it was nothing like the way friendships are here, at KCC. You guys have known each other, some of you, for most of your lives. That wasn’t my experience with high school at all. High school [friendship] was friends to do stuff with,  friends to hang out with after school. I love to have friends, and I loved to have friends then! But it wasn’t until college that I realized I’m an extroverted person. College was a gift for me. To be able to grow with people for four years and really to understand myself and my giftings, especially relational or social giftings – I realized that I am a relational person, and I wasn’t able to really explore that outside of my family until college.

Q: What trend was popular in high school that you wish would come back today?

A: I remember thinking Jansport backpacks were cool. Posting your status on Faacebook was cool when I was in high school, and I liked that. It used to say, ‘Rachel Smith is…’ and then you were supposed to fill in how you were feeling, or how you’re doing right now. People would really do that! And online diaries? I remember that was a trend. I had a Xanga and a MySpace – all these different things that were just, like, diaries online – that all your friends would read!

Q: What trend was popular in high school that you hope never to see again?

A: I feel like all of it? The skirts over denim jeans was a trend that didn’t need to happen, at all… giant t-shirts over flare-leg jeans, people did that… I remember, even people that fit in, [would have hoodies] with like dirty holes for their thumbs. I mostly think of style things, like UGG boots. When I lived in Oklahoma, there were a bunch of western styles that were trendy for the early 2000s. UGG boots with dresses, cowboy boots with dresses, and denim jackets, I remember just not loving [those trends]. Straightened hair, or just slicked back ponytails, I remember spending so much time in front of the mirror trying to get all of the bumps out of my hair.

Q: Where did you go to college?

A: Kansas State.

Q: What did you study in college?

A: Secondary Ed, Literature.

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?

A: No. In high school, I had no idea what I wanted to be. And I ended up looking at what the job outlook was for different careers at K-State and got into milling science – which is like, a grain engineer, sort of. I was miserable. It would have been a much better job, fiscally speaking, but I already knew I hated it.

Q: So how did you decide to go into teaching?

A: I had a job at a tutoring center in college with international students, and I realized I really liked to teach. Which my parents were happy about, because it’s practical, and really it was right up my alley. I had a lot of stigmas associated with teaching, like, ‘I think I am bright enough to do something else. I think I could change the world on a larger scale, societal kind of way, rather than on a smaller scale like in a school.’ By the time I got to be a junior in college, it hit me that I was fighting something, because I’ve stigmatized teaching in my own mind, and maybe society has as well, I don’t know. I always felt that [teachers] were preparing us for something else outside of school, and in some ways being a teacher felt like staying in school. But then by the time I got to my junior year in college, I didn’t think that way anymore. I’m not here as a peer, I’m here as a mentor and a teacher and all of these other roles, and it is a societal impact – just delayed. Teaching has grown in my mind to be more and more valuable.

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