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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Smith begins a brand new chapter

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Jo Kay Smith
MAMMOTH SPRING -- A retirement reception will be held May 6 in the multipurpose building at Mammoth Spring School for long time Mammoth Spring High School educator Jo Kay Smith.

The reception will be hosted by her sisters, Becky Haney and Suzanne Callahan, and her nieces, Morgan Haney and Dawn Purdom. The reception will be a drop-in from 2 to 4 p.m. The community is invited to attend. Haney said this includes all former students, educators and administrators that have been associated with Smith.

A special guest will be at the reception, Mammoth Spring alumni Dean of Business at ASU, Dr. Lyn Fry. He will speak at 3 p.m.

Jo Kay (Wilkerson) Smith is a 1962 graduate of Couch High School. She furthered her education at SMS in Springfield and graduated with an English and library science degree in 1966. Smith completed her graduate work at ASU in Jonesboro, receiving a master's degree in English.

In 1969 she married Jerry Smith.

Her teaching career began at Couch where she taught English for three years starting in the 1966-67 school year. From there she moved to Thayer School where she taught junior high English for one year.

"The school was newly built at Mammoth Spring and I was offered a job as an English teacher and librarian by former superintendent R.C. Blevins. I really liked teaching at Thayer but I could not turn down the new library at Mammoth Spring," she said.

She has taught English to juniors and seniors at the school and has been the high school librarian for 37 years.

She said she has seen a lot of changes in both the English and library departments at the school.

"In the past the Arkansas Department of Education allocated so many dollars per student at schools. Now with so many federal programs to help pay for books, we get a lot more federal dollars for funding," she said.

Smith said what students read from the library has changed considerably.

"Girls, especially, use to read a lot of mysteries and romances. Now they are reading books about the supernatural," Smith said. She said the good readers still read some of the classics like "Withering Heights' and "A Tell of Two Cities."

Another big change in the library system is the old card catalog. "Everything is done on the computer now. Ten or 12 years ago I bar coded every book in the library. It was a job," she said.

She said teaching English has also changed. "It makes you realize the world is so small. With TV and movies it has become more of a struggle for the written word," she said.

Smith said students are the same as they have always been. Many of the teachers, administrators and school board members she now works with and for, she had in class.

"I taught all the current school board members," she said.

Some of the elementary teachers she has taught include: Joe (Taylor) Underwood, Kathy (Brown) Bowers, Ann (Russell) Washam, Diane (Davis) Walsh, Beth (Ballard) Ragsdale, Teresa (Price) Flynn, Amy (Nicholson) Smith. Lana (Young) Steed, Janet (Johnson) Smoot, Tilda (Crass) Toomey, Donna (French) Brantly, Shelly (Barker) Justice, Robin (Johnson) Vonginhoven, Jackie (Russell) Vest and Wade Powell.

High School teachers that were taught under Smith include: Mark Taylor, Tina (Harris) Taylor, Denny Young, Cindy (Ball) Simers, Jolie (Pendarvis) Washam, Lindy Green, Linda (Purcell) Green, Anita Humphrey, Rose (Walsh) McGowen, Barbara (Myers) Tyson, Janet (Ball) Young and Brian Davis.

Aides at the school that had Smith as a teacher include: Lacy (Manes) Lingenfelter, Janette (Walsh) Fry, Melissa (Case) Smith, Mike Wilkerson, Neil Rogers and Audrey (McCradic) Tyson.

"There are very few people who get to spend their life doing what they love to do," Smith said. "I have had wonderful students, and I am proud of them."

When asked what she has planned for her retirement Smith said she guessed she would be putting Jerry (her husband) to work. "I love to read, and I will be spending some time reading," she said.

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