I don’t think I’ll ever forget Vickie Smith.
My sophomore year at ACU I enrolled in Ms. Smith’s English 112 class, assuming it would be easy. I quickly found out that Ms. Smith had no intentions of ever teaching a blow-off class.
The first day of class she told us her course would be the hardest class we’d ever taken. She wasn’t lying.
Ms. Smith died on Saturday at age 62, and the university lost one of its truly unique personalities. She was tough, persistent and frankly, she was intimidating.
But from the first day of class three things were glaringly apparent: she loved teaching, she loved God and she loved her students.
At the start of every class, she would pass a prayer journal around the class. She told students to put whatever was in their heart in the journal. It wasn’t a fancy book, but Ms. Smith wasn’t fancy. She said she would pray for us. Again, she wasn’t lying.
Her unconventional teaching style made her unique. Sure, we talked about all of the literature stuff, but looking back, Ms. Smith had an uncanny ability to weave life lessons into her class lessons. Discussions about purity, integrity and responsibility were far more frequent in her class than discussions about commas and phrases.
However, she still expected her students to work hard. Ms. Smith was all about effort and the more effort a student put into an assignment, the better grade he or she would receive.
Ms. Smith gave me a bad grade on my first essay, and I was pretty upset. I asked her what I did wrong and she asked me to come meet with her. She proceeded to spend almost two hours of her own time helping me become a better writer – for two hours I was all that mattered that her.
People like Ms. Smith are rare. She would stay after class to help students as often as they needed. For Vickie Smith, teaching was not a job – it was a ministry. She relished the opportunity to influence students.
I only had her for one semester, and there were times I wanted bang my head against a wall doing one of her essays. But looking back, it’s easy to recognize that I was fortunate to have been taught by an outstanding teacher.
Vickie Smith knew when it was time to make her students laugh. She knew when it was time to be tough, and she knew when it was time to show compassion.
This campus is going to miss her.