Retiring teacher taught in her former classroom

A local retiring teacher was once a student in the classroom where she taught.

Elisha Smith, a Wapakoneta Middle School sixth-grade teacher, retired at the end of the school year, and her science and social studies classroom was once her chemistry classroom when she attended high school.

Smith, a 1975 graduate of Wapakoneta High School, attended classes in the former high school in the now middle school building.

Smith did not start out as a teacher until after she had worked as a teacher’s aid at Lima City Schools and a hearing impaired school in Findlay — and it was that experience which helped her make a tough decision.     

“Then I realized I could be a teacher,” Smith said.

Smith, and her husband, Bart, who also retired from the Wapakoneta City School District this year, moved to Ottawa for her husband’s teaching job after they got married.

Smith, who attended college at The Ohio State University-Lima in 1981 and graduated with her bachelor’s in elementary education in 1985, taught computer science for grades K-8 at Ottawa-Glandorf Elementary School for five years until the couple moved to Wapakoneta.

In 1991, Smith and her husband were hired to teach at the Wapakoneta Middle School.

“We came back because of family,” Smith said. “Our parents were here.”

Smith taught seventh-grade life science for several years before switching to sixth-grade science and social studies.

“I just liked being able to use creativity,” Smith said of her favorite part of teaching. “I liked the idea of being able to use creativity to come up with activities to help kids ‘get it.’ ”

Smith also enjoyed keeping up with the new technology to help teach her students.

“I couldn’t teach without an Eno board,” Smith said with a laugh.

After her years at the middle school, Smith said she will miss the people she works with and the routine the most.

“It’s been a really good experience,” Smith said. “Lots of good kids have gone through here.”

With her time off, Smith said she hopes to do more projects around the house, including crafts.

“It will be nice to do projects around the house,” Smith said. “And maybe I’ll dust off the sewing machine and sew more.”

But she said she is open to new opportunities.

“I’m open to whatever comes along,” Smith said. “I envision myself working again, just not sure what that will be.”

But the beginning of Smith’s summer will be busy with moving her older daughter, Andrea, into a new place. Andrea, 24, recently got married and completed her doctorate  in pharmacy at The University of Toledo.

Also, her younger daughter, Emily, 21, will also be moving into a different apartment at Hocking College, where she studies equine health and complementary therapies.

Between helping with moving and her projects, Smith said the idea of retirement may not set in until later.

“It won’t hit me until the fall that I’m retired.”