Smith is Woman of Distinction
Morgan County School Board president Laura Smith was one of three community leaders recognized as 2007 Women of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of the Shawnee Council.
Smith, Journal editor Maria Lorensen and Hospice of the Panhandle board member Barbara Pichot were honored at a September 27 luncheon at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn.
The Women of Distinction award began in 2005, said Smith. Jeanne Mozier won the first year for Morgan County and Sally Marshall was honored last year, said Smith.
Smith first ran for a seat on the Morgan County School Board in 1994, but was unsuccessful in her bid. She was elected to the school board in 1996. Smith said she had always been active in school PTOs and school improvement councils.
Citizens for Educational Excellence member
In the early 1990s, Smith belonged to the Citizens for Educational Excellence, a group of concerned parents that met regularly. Smith was the group's representative that attended the school board meetings.
Citizens for Educational Excellence was instrumental in working toward the implementation of the PASS program in the schools, the construction of Warm Springs Middle School and helping to acquire grants and technology in county schools, said Smith.
Owned Woodview Nursery
Smith and her husband Larry Smith moved to the area when they bought Woodview Nursery and Tree Farm in 1985. They had lived previously in Maryland. The Smiths ran their nursery and tree farm for about 15 years.
Her husband was a soil conservationist for the Eastern Panhandle Soil Conservation District and Smith helped him as an agency volunteer. He passed away several years ago.
Works at Travel
Smith has been an administrative assistant for Travel Berkeley Springs for the past seven years. At her job, she greets visitors, answers questions and gives directions
and information on area businesses and events.
Smith is very involved in helping Chamber of Commerce director Beth Curtin with the Apple Butter Festival. The Winter Festival of the Waters and the Uniquely West Virginia Festival are the other big festivals that Smith helps organize.
"It keeps me young," said Smith.
She is very active in St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Along with other church members, Smith helps in the Starting Points Soup Kitchen. She is also involved in the PASS program.
Likes being busy
Smith said she is used to being busy. When you own your own business, you work 24/7, said Smith.
"In the nursery business, like farmers, there's no such thing as a day off," she said.
Their day on the farm started at 7 a.m. and often ended with a mulch delivery at 10 p.m., said Smith. There were always plants to water, she said.
Smith is also an avid reader and reads "just about any anything." Smith likes murder mysteries and romances and just enjoyed Marley and Me, a fun read about a couple that adopts a yellow Labrador retriever. Smith said she is also hooked on sudoku puzzles.
Smith was a Brownie Scout and then a Girl Scout until her junior year of high school. Scouting involves merit badges where you get to do a variety of things that you might not have had a chance to do, such as canoeing or camping, she said.
There are also community service projects in Girl Scouts. In scouting and in the world today, Smith believed what was important was having positive role models. Smith also thought that young people needed organized activities.
"Not everyone's cut out to be a basketball player," she said.
Her biggest frustration now with the schools is the expulsions due to prescription drugs.
"It seems real hard to get students to understand how dangerous a prescription drug can be," said Smith.
No Child Left Behind is also frustrating, she said.
"It seems that all we do is make sure test score requirements are met. It seems like we're losing the reason why we're there for kids. I don't think any of us that got into education did it to leave kids behind," said Smith.
One of the things that struck Smith when she was attending school board meetings as a Citizens for Educational Excellence member was a comment that by the year 2020 that 90% of the jobs that would be available haven't even been thought of yet.
Smith said she realized that "education can't be all facts and figures. Students have to be flexible to live in an ever-changing world."
Students leaving the school system have to be able to learn and know how to research and use technology, she said. Her hope when students graduate is that they are going on to some kind of further education. It doesn't have to be college and can be vocational or technical training, she said.
Was honored by award
Smith said receiving the Shawnee Council Girl Scouts award was an honor and a surprise.
"I do what I do because I like it. Even though we all want to solve world hunger, we necessarily can't. But if we make a difference in an individual's life, that's important too," Smith said.