Why Haywood – Beth Ann Smith – Anderson Early Childhood Center

Coming on the heels of two fractured school years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many educators are considering a new career.  According to a poll conducted by the National Education Association in January of 2022, 90% of its members surveyed said that feeling burned out is a serious problem.  

On a macro level, educators are critical to the continuing success and development of our country as a whole.  On a micro level, finding and retaining teachers in Haywood County who want to teach in the community and invest in the lives of students is of the highest importance to the district.  Without passionate teachers, the plans and programs of a district would be null and void no matter how innovative those plans and programs are.  

In West Tennessee, there are multiple districts in need of teachers that are within driving distance of Haywood County.  Outside of the world of education, there are companies and job opportunities available in abundance.  So, what keeps our teachers in Haywood County?

Beth Ann Smith is a Haywood County native and is arriving at the end of her teaching career – all of those years spent in Haywood County Schools.  For Beth Ann, Haywood County has been where she attended school as a student, raised a family, and spent her career teaching Art.  

I sat down with Beth Ann and asked her “Why Haywood?”  I wanted to know why she chose to plant her roots in this community and why she chose Haywood County Schools as the place to make a long term investment in the lives of students in our community.

Below are excerpts from my conversation with Beth Ann.  Our full conversation can be heard on episode 4 of the Tomcat Talk podcast available on Spotify as well as Anchor.Fm.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been in HCS for 30 years.  It’s bittersweet for me to be retiring.  I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  When I was growing up, we didn’t have Art as a class until I was in high school, and I had a wonderful teacher named Anita Clyburn.  I knew then that’s what I wanted to be.  I took Art all four years in high school

What is the most challenging part about teaching?

I guess there hasn’t been too much that’s been challenging for me about teaching.  I like getting my hands dirty and painting.  I just can’t think of anything that’s been challenging.  


What is the most rewarding aspect about teaching?

I love seeing students excited and trying new things they’ve never tried before.  At this age, they’re brand new to anything that has to do with Art.  Some days, I can just put out markers and paper and they just go!


What aspect of your personality do you feel students connect with the most?

My demeanor is very calm and that’s comforting to kids.  I wish I was a little more energetic, though. 


What is something about you that your students would never guess?

I think my students think I live at school.  All elementary teachers probably feel this way, but I feel like a celebrity when I see my students outside of school.  They get so excited when they see me.

Why Haywood?

This is my home.  I never dreamed of going anywhere else.  It’s been a great adventure.  I’m hoping to do some art classes in the community when I retire.  I worked many summer programs through Haywood County Schools and loved all of that.  I’ve had second thoughts about retiring, but it’s time.