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Once a Janitor at the School, Now She’s Their Beloved Teacher After Continuous Study to Earn Degree

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What is the difference between having the dream and living the dream? Hard work and perseverance.

Wanda Smith always wanted to be a school teacher, but sometimes meeting the demanding realities of life can mean a deferred dream.

Smith, a mother of three, also cared for her mother. Fulfilling all of her family responsibilities, she accepted jobs as a custodial and bus supervisor for the Brenham Independent School District in Texas.

The hours were exhausting, but instead of letting her sleep die, at 37, with the support and encouragement of her husband, she added evening classes to her schedule.

Nine years later, he finally graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University. She was finally a certified teacher.

Smith’s story came full circle when she was hired as a first grade teacher at Brenham Elementary School. Unfortunately, her mother and loving sisters did not live to see her achievement, but she knows they would have been proud of her.

“When I stand in front of my classroom, my classroom, I am living my dream,” Smith said during a TODAY Teacher Appreciation Day segment with Jenna Bush Hager.

During the pandemic, as some of his students struggled to meet the demands of distance education, Smith rose to the challenge. Noting that many of the children she teaches come from single-parent families, she began handing them homework packets at home.

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No wonder Smith’s children adore her. In a special surprise ceremony, they shouted their praises and raised large colorful banners declaring their devotion.

The sentiment was shared by Brenham Mayor Milton Tate Jr, who, using one of Smith’s own signature lines, officially declared May 4, 2021 as “Be the best you can be” as Wanda Smith Day. .

The phrase was also inscribed on a memorial bench in the schoolyard, and in addition, a Promising Teachers Scholarship was established at Sam Houston State in his name.

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Smith’s life is both an example and an inspiration. Always striving to be the best she could be, with heart and devotion, she graduated from cleaning classrooms to leading classrooms, and that certainly puts her on our honor roll.

(LOOK TODAY’s video on this story below).

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