Susan Smith graduated from Danville High School in 1977, moved away from Danville for 28 years, and currently lives in Stanford. She is a member of Danville Kiwanis, organized and directed the Miss Danville Scholarship for five years, and is the owner of the Rita G. Hawkins Early Learning Center (Formerly Hometown Kids) on East Main Street in Danville.
"We provide care and education for about 100 children, most of them living in the DISD," she said about the facility. "Even though I live in Stanford, I am a true blue supporter of the DISD. As a former DHS cheerleader, my heart will forever belong to the Admirals. Win or lose, they are my team."
The DISD asked Smith questions about her time as a student in the district. Keep reading to see what she said.
Tell us about your Danville Schools journey. What school(s) did you attend, and what’s a highlight that stands out to you?
I attended Danville Schools from first grade until high school graduation. I lived in the same home, just down from the high school, on Hudson Ave. I walked back and forth to Jennie Rogers, Bate, and DHS. Some of my best childhood memories took place on the DHS campus. It was a social event to watch the DHS band practice, and everyone came. Also, watching football practice, attending football scrimmages, and bonfire pep rallies were great times for me.
What aspects of your Danville Schools education helped mold you into the person you are today?
Beginning with Mrs. Cannon at Jennie Rogers and all the way through DHS, I was blessed by teachers/coaches because they encouraged me, and they invested in me. I didn’t even realize the impact fully until probably my mid 20s when I began living an adult life. The quality of the education I received was broad and wide across all disciplines, so much so that when I started college when I was 45 years old, I carried a 3.75 GPA as a single parent taking a full class load and was the oldest member of the honors program. DISD not only provided a high quality education, but also a social and justice awareness that formed life standards that I carry today. Some of the teachers that truly impacted me were Mrs. Cannon, Mr. Davis and Mrs. Scarborough at Bate, and Coach Harmon, Mr. Diesel, Mr. Plummer, Mrs. Malory, Mrs. Farmer, and Mr. Trumbo at DHS.
When you think back on your Danville Schools experience, are there specific instances or relationships that stand out to you as having had a significant impact on your success since graduating?
I think the biggest impact was the teachers investing in the students on a scale that continued to impact their lives long after graduation.
As a product of Danville Schools, what advice would you give to a parent who was choosing an education path for their child?
I would encourage every parent that their child will thrive in an environment of equity and fairness in DISD while learning respect for all cultures represented in the district and in our world. As a child, I learned to love all classmates and teachers without regard for sex, race, or ability.
As a product of Danville Schools, what drives you to give back to your local school and/or district?
I used to be very active politically. But a few years ago I realized that the only way that I could truly make a difference is on a small scale, with the way I treat and serve others. I began doing small things like fundraisers for disaster survivors in Kentucky, working with girls to prepare for pageants, service to our community, providing meals for a sick friend. If you want to see change, you must be the change.
This piece is part of an ongoing series telling the stories of our Danville Alumni! We share a new alumni story once a month, and we want YOUR story. If you or someone you know is a Danville graduate and an excellent representative of the Danville community and the idea of #SuccessForALL, whether they live in Danville or not, please fill out the form linked below. You can also show your Danville Alumni pride on social media with the hashtag #DanvilleAlumniStories
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