Fatima Smuck is bidding farewell after spending more than a quarter-century serving the Edison Local School District.
Smuck, who has acted as district administrative assistant, food service director and director of early childhood and special education, retired on June 30 and looks back fondly on her 28 years educating and benefitting the students at Edison.
The Follansbee resident graduated from Brooke High School and completed her undergraduate degree at the College of Steubenville while she received her administrative degree at Franciscan University. She went on to marry her husband of 46 years, David, and together they had two children, David and Erika, and two grandchildren, Julia and Jacob. Smuck began her career as a special education teacher at John Gregg Elementary in Bergholz and worked her way up to principal in 2005. She also took on the district roles and became an administrative assistant in 2015.
She recalled having a rewarding career that allowed her to help children reach their potential.
“The time I spent as a special education teacher became so fulfilling as I watched my students grow and become more confident with their academic, social and physical abilities. My time at John Gregg Elementary became such a big part of my life and although I live in West Virginia, the community, students and staff became home to me,” she said. “My time as principal was very rewarding and when I was asked to become an administrator at the central office, it was a difficult decision. Every day is interesting and challenging and our administrative team continues to learn, so that we can provide the best for our students.”
In addition, she was an adjunct professor at Franciscan University and spent several summers instructing administrative courses for graduate students. She relishes the idea that some of her former pupils are currently principals themselves. Smuck continued that it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience watching district pupils grow into their own.
“I am fortunate that through the positions that I have held, I was able to get to know many students and their families over the years. I have seen struggles followed by achievements, self-doubt turned into confidence and families that had bad experiences with education learn to appreciate what we are offering here at Edison Local.”
Highlights of her career include watching students find success with reading and experience the love of literacy and learning. Some of those same students she taught are now parents of students who are attending Edison schools, and she noted it was gratifying when they see her and remember some of the fun projects and experiences they had as students in her classroom. Another high point was receiving a $56,000 grant to establish an OhioReads program, a project she developed with retired teachers, parents and community members volunteering their time to read to students. Smuck would continue to write and obtain grants for more programs and services to support the student and district. During her first year as principal, she and a colleague received a five-year, $1.5-million afterschool grant to develop programming and she also obtained support over the years through partnerships with the Bergholz Community Foundation, Franciscan University and local agencies and churches. Smuck said that support has grown and become vital to Edison Local Schools.
Other noteworthy accomplishments include forming the Parent/Teacher Partnership Committee five years ago to implement goals and strategies for student success and the summer food service program which delivers food to churches and other participating sites to distribute to students as well as feed youth involved in activities at Edison High School. She thanked parents for actively taking part in the PTP committee and praised the cooks and drivers for their roles in distributing food to the community.
Smuck said she will miss plenty from her time at Edison but knows students will continue to receive the best support possible.
“I will miss seeing the smiles and laughter of the students, I will miss the students socializing at lunch and recess and I will miss walking into classrooms and seeing students engaged in their learning. I will miss the staff and the team effort of solving problems and doing what is best to support our students and their families. I will miss the joy of being around so many people who work hard every day to do what is best for students,” she said. “The Edison Local School District has grown over the years and implemented many programs to provide for the success of all of our students. We now have guidance counselors at each school, mental health services, a career specialist, visual impairment specialist, literacy specialists and a recognized literacy program, Positive Behavioral Intervention Support, a Universal Design of Learning and summer school.
Superintendent Bill Beattie thanked Smuck and said she was very committed to her posts with the district.
“The Edison Local School District was very fortunate to have Fatima Smuck as an employee for the last 28 years. She was very dedicated to her work, whatever capacity she served in. Her work ethic and dedication to the students, parents and community members were at the forefront and always her focus. When she accepted the central office position in 2015, she took over a food service program that was operating with a huge deficit. She not only was able to get it out of a deficit, but she made the food service program something that students and staff appreciated on a daily basis,” Beattie said. “I want to wish Fatima good luck in her future endeavors and I am very thankful for all the hard work, long hours and dedication to our school district and our school community. It will be very difficult to replace the tangibles she brought to the district throughout her tenure.”