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Write It Out: Longtime educator followed her heart

Jane Smith in her 1976 college photo.
Jane Smith in her 1976 college photo.

It was a time of decision and lots of family friends, even my dad’s boss, were trying to help. They were trying to help me decide my declared major during my junior year at Washington State University.

I had “played school” as a young child, and as I became older, I hired out to watch neighborhood children, gradually getting referrals to care for acquaintances.

Sixth grade was a year of volunteer work in the special education room at my school, assisting the teacher one day a week during my afternoon recess.

During high school, I cared for a couple’s two elementary-age children during the week after school until 6 each evening. This job not only provided income, but a sense of accomplishment because I helped the children complete chores and homework assignments and engaged them in outdoor play before their parents arrived home.

In the 1970s, education majors were flooding the job market. People told me: “You’ll never get a job” and “You’ll never make any money.”

Getting a job and making money were important to me, but I was feeling the call to become an educator. Many of my friends, including my dad’s boss said: “Business would be a better choice.”

After a short deliberation, I wrote “education” as my major that junior year. It began my career.

I currently hold a guest teacher position in two school districts. In years past, I have substitute-taught in many districts. I’ve also tutored, worked in child care, church nurseries, vacation Bible school, served as an elementary librarian and owned and operated a private preschool in Stevens County.

The advice I’m glad I didn’t take? “Go into business.”

Education was the advice I gave myself, and it pleases me.