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Goodbye, Ms. Smith!

Tomi Smith is currently the Culinary Arts teacher at Analy. In her 25 years here, she has watched the school environment evolve, as well as her class schedule and teaching style. She has always been the Foods teacher, but she has seen the Sewing class come and go. Additionally, she has taught several other electives and worked as the costume designer for the theater department. In this interview, she highlights her best memories as a teacher, how historical changes have affected the way she teaches, and her philanthropic plans for the future.

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Goodbye, Ms. Smith!

Alana Cree and Bella Nadler

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Tomi Smith is currently the Culinary Arts teacher at Analy. In her 25 years here, she has watched the school environment evolve, as well as her class schedule and teaching style. She has always been the Foods teacher, but she has seen the Sewing class come and go. Additionally, she has taught several other electives and worked as the costume designer for the theater department. In this interview, she highlights her best memories as a teacher, how historical changes have affected the way she teaches, and her philanthropic plans for the future.

 

How have you watched Analy grow and change?

“When I started teaching kids didn’t have cell phones. Technology has advanced so much in the last 25 years that teaching has changed to accommodate that. It’s easier and harder at the same time. We have more information which is easily accessible to us but kids get lost in their phones.”

 

Have you changed as we started to rely on technology more?

“Yeah, I have incorporated it into the curriculum. I now have students use their phones or chromebooks for research, and we no longer have to go to the library. [The use of technology] saves paper, which is good. I’m kind of an environmentalist.”

 

What has been your favorite memory while working at analy?

She laughs. “That’s like trying to pick your favorite child.”

 

What’s one memory that sticks out to you?

“Around the first year I was working here I had this young man who was struggling in all of his classes. He liked the cooking class and we did a cake decorating competition and the showcased them all on the field. We had judges, and this kid won. He did a mosaic on [his cake] with sugar sand. All of a sudden there was something in him that just woke up. He went on to culinary school and became a pastry chef. His grandma wrote me a letter and said that if it wasn’t for that class, they were worried he would go to prison. He suddenly had a purpose in his life. That memory just sticks out.”

“I also have a lot of good memories working with the kids in theatre. Really getting to know [them] as people and not students and also allowing [them] to get to know me as a person not just [their] teacher.”

 

Can you go over the history of your classes at Analy?

“I started [at Analy] not working full time – I had a part time job with two culinary classes. One year I taught a Senior Life Studies class. The first year I taught at Analy there was a fire in the East Wing. I bought a tent and taught camping style cooking to my students. That year, Mr. Goldberg said something to me that I have remembered ever since. I was new at the school. I had only been here for a month, and everything was gone. [He said,] ‘I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but just you wait, [teaching here] will be the best thing that happens in your career’… And he was right.”

 

What are your plans for after retirement?

“I am going to do something. I am not just going to sit in a rocking chair on my porch. I still have gas in my tank! I think if I only work half time, I’ll have time to volunteer and give back to the community. I would like to possibly work in the Ceres kitchen. I would also like to volunteer to clean up the environment. People have been so kind to me over the past few months [referring to losing her house in the October fire], I want to give back to this community.”

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Goodbye, Ms. Smith!