My Turn: Dawn Smith

From school volunteer to school secretary, Dawn Smith has seen her school grow from 150 to 800 students in her 26-year career

Dawn Smith, Sollers Point Elementary School, Anne Arundel County. (Photo © Stephen Cherry)

“The staff knows that they can come to me for anything and I will try my best to take care of it no matter what it is.” — Dawn Smith, Secretary II, Anne Arundel County

Helping people has always been what I love to do. Being an elementary school secretary gives me the versatility to connect with students, parents, staff, and community and assist each one as situations arise.

While volunteering at my sons’ elementary school, I decided I wanted to work in the school system so I could continue to help children in any way I could. I started at Solley Elementary 26 years ago and fell in love with the school and community. The school has grown from 150 students to 800, but they are all my special kids. I love walking down the hallway, getting high fives, and listening to students when they just need someone to hear them.

Teachers have such a heavy workload these days so I try to help however I can — even if it means going to their room and sorting a problem out. The staff knows that they can come to me for anything and I will try my best to take care of it no matter what it is.

I’ve been active with SAAAAC, my local union. I love meeting new people, working to achieve new goals, and building relationships with members. MSEA offers wonderful classes on how to achieve goals and how to build substantial relationships. These lessons have helped not only with union goals, but also working with staff and students at school.

I get to meet many different people and each one has their own story. Listening to them teaches me about their culture and helps me to understand how every life is special. We are all different, yet we are all the same. One of my favorite quotes by Mother Teresa is, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” You never know what will make an impression on a person, so I try to make every encounter a pleasant one.