The following is a tribute to Judy Smith, authored in a letter by the staff and students of Mt. Vernon Elementary School in 1995 to Governor Evan H. Bayh asking that she be considered for the “Distinguished Hoosier Award.”
“We are writing in reference to an exceptionally wonderful teacher who is suffering from a tragic, degenerative disease, ALS. Judy Smith is one of those teachers that not only does an excellent job of teaching each day, but she has always done it with such dedication and style. At Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, we use the phrase “go the second mile.” In describing Judy, she surely has gone at least the “10th mile” on a daily basis for many years.
Judy has been teaching for a total of 22 years at Mt. Vernon Elementary. She has always been an excellent role model, help, and inspiration to everyone who has ever worked with her. Even though her physical abilities are becoming limited, her enthusiasm for teaching remains strong. She always was, and still is, a major contributor to creative teaching ideas.
Judy has been the backbone of our Indiana History curriculum. Over the course of 14 years, the curriculum has evolved into a “step back into history” through various enriching educational activities which include guest artists, field trips, a pioneer feast, and pioneer projects. It is a valuable experience remembered by students forever.
Mt. Vernon Elementary was one of the first schools in Indiana to do a joint PBA-North Central Evaluation. At that time, the concept of doing a combined study was considered an almost impossible task. Under Judy’s leadership, the project was hailed as a great success and recommended as a model for other elementary schools to follow.
Over the course of many teaching years, Judy has shared her knowledge, talent, and love with many young people. She has touched the hearts of her students so much that many of them are returning to her classroom now, offering to help her in any way that they can.
Judy has become a hero at Mt. Vernon Elementary. The central office administration and the school staff have done a wonderful job of supporting Judy daily, giving her the opportunity to continue to do what she loves doing most: TEACH! She suffers continually but never complains. She relishes every moment of every day for she knows that she will not be able to continue forever. She has been such an inspiration to her students, friends, and the community, that we do not want this hero to go unnoticed.
As a result of this beautiful tribute, Judy was honored with the “Distinguished Hoosier Award” as well as the “Bell Ringer Award.” This scholarship was created by her husband, Bruce, as a lasting memorial to his very special wife.
Applicants must be graduating seniors of Mt. Vernon High School, be residents of Hancock County, Indiana, be in the top one-third of their class academically, and intend to major in elementary education. Selection will be based on scholastic ability and potential for successful completion of a higher education program, demonstration of good citizenship, involvement in extracurricular activities, and a caring personality.