Westlake Retirements

Leia Wilson, Dedicated Writer

Mrs. Daphne Georgia
Mrs. Donna Smith

Many things about this last year have been absolutely crazy, and we can all write a long list of all of the pure weirdness 2020 and 2021 have brought.

For Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Georgia, they have one more thing to add, which is that they’re retiring from the teaching profession!

I can say that my middle school years have absolutely flown by, but I can’t imagine my whole career coming to an end.  As Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Georgia prepare for a new chapter of their lives, I asked them to reflect on their time here and reminisce about their best memories. 

What grade and subject do you teach?

Mrs. Georgia:  “I teach 6th grade, Social Studies.”

Mrs. Smith: “Hi! I teach 7th grade language arts.”

Why did you choose to be a teacher?

Mrs. Georgia: “I was born wanting to be a teacher! I was the little girl who lined up her dolls and pretended to teach them to read! My mom was a teacher and we lived in a pretty small town and everywhere we went children would call out her name and say hello! They loved her! I just knew that teaching was a special calling.”

Mrs. Smith:I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a young girl.  I did not fulfill that desire until I was 40 years old and had my own children.  I decided to return to college and pursue something I wanted to do for a long time.  It was the best decision I ever made.”

What has been your favorite part about being a teacher?

Mrs. Georgia: “Definitely my favorite part of teaching is interacting with kids every day. I love the things they say and think and I love to watch them grow and mature academically and socially. I also love the family I have built with my colleagues. I have been so fortunate to work with some of the most amazing people.”

Mrs. Smith:I really like being around young people and seeing them use their creativity.”

What are some of your plans for when you’re retired?

 Mrs. Georgia: “Well, after this tough, past year I am really looking forward to going to bed at night and sleeping without worrying about what the next day will bring!! And only using technology for fun!! But, I am also looking forward to spending time with my grandkids (I have had four in the past two years!) and traveling with my husband and doing fun things on a Sunday and not thinking about all of the things I should be doing for school!”

Mrs. Smith:Well, I am looking forward to being with my grandchildren more often.  I also am looking forward to having time to myself and not be on a schedule.”

How many years have you been a teacher?

 Mrs. Georgia: “Counting when I taught my dolls to read?! JK!! I have been teaching for 30 years (sometimes the days go slow, but the years fly by!!). 27 of those years have been at Westlake.”

Mrs. Smith:I have been teaching for 26 years.”

What’s one special memory that you have about teaching?

 Mrs. Georgia:It is impossible to pick one memory out of all these years.  I have so many!  Some sad, some scary, but mostly really good memories.  I know it will sound trite, but my memories of my students having fun and joking around and hearing their laughter is what I will remember most.  I think at least one student made me laugh everyday!   Even on the really hard days someone would say something that would make me smile!”

Mrs. Smith:I have a fond memory of taking the entire 7th grade to see the play “A Christmas Carol” at the Center for Performing Arts in Denver.  For many students it was the first time they ever saw a live performance.  We dressed up and made the day very special.”

What advice would you give to new teachers?

 Mrs. Georgia:Think long and hard before you get out the glitter!! Also…have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.  If you aren’t having fun then stop doing it…no matter what ‘it’ is.  

Mrs. Smith:My advice:

*Always overplan

*Be organized

*Include creativity in most lessons

*Enjoy the kids; and don’t be too strict or stern; they hate that!”

What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?

Mrs. Georgia:There is an old saying that states that students won’t remember the lessons you spent hours on, or that you spent time laminating the notes, or how cute your room was decorated, or how organized your shelves were, but they will remember a teacher’s kindness, empathy, care and concern.  I hope they remember that I took time to listen.  And I asked them how they were and really cared.  I hope they remember that I laughed with them and I do hope they learned at least a little Social Studies along the way!”

Mrs. Smith: “I would like people to remember that I was kind to them and made them feel comfortable in my class.” 

It is evident that in their time here at Westlake, both of these teachers have made a big impact and have changed the lives of many, such as their students and fellow staff members.

We are all wishing them the best of luck with their retirement. Thank you so much, Mrs. Georgia and Mrs. Smith, for all that you have done for us!