Dr. Smith to speak
Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012 12:00 am
Dr. Smith, the daughter of the late Rev. and Mrs. T. E. White, graduated as valedictorian of her class in 1957 from Weakley County Training School in Martin.
She attended Philander Smith College as a National Methodist Scholar and later received her B. A. degree in English from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
She received the Master of Arts Degree in English from California State University, Long Beach and the Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Her career as professor of English, rhetoric and writing, African American studies, and teacher education spanned 31 years.
She taught briefly at high schools before embarking on a long career in higher education as a full-time professor at Long Beach City College, Grossmont College, San Diego College, and San Diego State University, mentoring many of her students to become teachers themselves.
While still teaching full-time at San Diego City College, Dr. Smith was elected citywide as the first African-American woman to serve in public office in the history of the City of San Diego.
Dr. Smith served eight years as a member of the Board of Education of San Diego City Schools beginning in 1981, including two years as president and two years as vice-president.
She also served as a member of the Steering Committee of the Council of Urban Boards of Education and as a delegate to the National School Boards Association.
In 1984, as president of the San Diego Board of Education, she was one of 12 San Diego leaders invited by the Jewish Community Relations Council to tour Egypt and Israel as an official guest of the State of Israel.
In 2001, she was appointed by Mayor Dick Murphy to the inaugural San Diego Ethics Commission and served for two years as president of the Ethics Commission.
Dr. Smith has received numerous awards for serving education and to the San Diego community, including the Distinguished School Boards Award from United States Secretary of Education Terrell Bell, the San Diego Historical Society’s Roger Revelle Award for Distinction in Education, the Center City Development Corporation’s Director’s Award for development of San Diego’s Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, the Salvation Army Auxiliary’s Women of Dedication Award, the President’s Council’s Woman of Achievement Award and the United Negro College Fund’s Frederick Patterson Leadership Award.
She was also awarded the Samaritan of the Year Award, the National School Boards Association award for Distinguished Service to the Children of the Nation, the University of San Diego’s Remarkable Leader in Education Award, the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge Champion for Children Award, and the Jackie Robinson YMCA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Human Dignity Award.
She became a Golden Soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in 2008 and has also received the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Far Western Region Distinguished Soror Award. She has traveled in five continents, has been a frequent presenter at state and national conferences, and is the author of several books: “Teacher Characteristics for Culturally Diverse Schools; Hillery W. Key: Spanning the Tide in Tennessee,” a genealogical work; and two works of poetry – “Afterthoughts,” and “My Face to the rising Sun.”
Married for almost 54 years to Dr. Carl Smith, she is the mother of two children, Carlton Smith, M.D. and Sharian Lott, a community college professor; and the grandmother of four.
Published in The WCP 8.16.12