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Top teacher speaks to retirees about her journey

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Clayton County Retired Educators Association President Eddie White presents the 2013 Clayton County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Pamela Smith, with a certificate of appreciation.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Clayton County Retired Educators Association President Eddie White presents the 2013 Clayton County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Pamela Smith, with a certificate of appreciation.

JONESBORO — Pamela Smith’s voice broke as she recovered from the pregnant pause.

“Four consecutive corporate layoffs,” lamented Smith as she spoke to the crowd of 61 retired educators. “I was wallowing in self-pity because I was in my 30s still trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grow up.”

Smith is the 2013 Clayton County Public Schools Teacher of The Year and guest speaker during the Clayton County Retired Educators Association meeting Tuesday.

She said she started teaching in the district about five years ago. The former child psychologist teaches eighth-grade English/language arts and is grade-level chair at Mundy’s Mill Middle School.

“I have no complaints about my journey,” said Smith. “I did not enter teaching to receive accolades. I learned that educators are not called, we are chosen. We have the shoulders of giants and the hearts of lions.”

Cathy White is secretary for CCREA. She took notice of three myths Smith pointed out about teachers — that they have easy jobs with summers and afternoons off.

White retired about a decade ago after 31 years — 13 years as a teacher and 18 as an administrator in the district. She said teachers often work long hours and many earn continuing education credits during the summer.

White said she was also pleased with Smith’s address during the group’s last meeting of the school year.

“It tickled me that she included God and that she feels blessed,” she said. “And her heart and commitment is to teach. She feels like the children depend on us and that we have an obligation to teach them.”

CCREA President Eddie White presided over Tuesday’s meeting, which included the installation of new officers. He retains the post for 2013-14.

Mary Jones will be vice president. Cathy White will continue as secretary. And Barbara Lewis will remain treasurer of the 210-member organization.

The end-of-the-year gathering also featured a fundraiser for student scholarships and an awards and certificates presentation in which Smith was an honoree.

Eddie White also confirmed a visit by Georgia Retired Educators Association President Rita Marable to CCREA’s Aug. 13 meeting.