Besides hundreds of parents tearfully wiping their eyes as they watched their children accept their certificates, the most emotional moment of the Maplewood Middle School 8th grade graduation this past June was an acknowledgment of the retirement of Kevin Smith.
Resplendent in pink seersucker jacket and bow tie, Smith himself fought back the tears when Principal Jerrill Adams thanked him for his 26 years of service at MMS, first as a math teacher, then as team leader and, finally, school counselor.
Smith is retiring to “enjoy life,” his friend and colleague Assistant Principal Marc Gold told Village Green.
Gold spoke of how much Smith will be missed.
“Ever since I’ve been here, he always — every morning — plays a song…. something [that reflected what was] going on the world or a holiday. It was always on point,” said Gold.
In addition, Smith is “beloved by every single person. The kids absolutely enjoy him. He’s positive and genuine with the students. They trust him in various ways not only to provide them with knowledge but feedback, outlooks in life.”
Gold said that Smith’s reputation as a sounding board and friendly ear also extended to staff. “There are times when staff members go into his office for counseling sessions — me included,” said Gold. “He really was a backbone in our building.”
“Mr. Smith was such a support to Zach and our family during his illness and recovery,” said Marnie Doubek, whose son Zach, an MMS student who graduated in June, battled the life-threatening MRSA – an invasive staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics — in 2014. “I love that man,” she added.
In an email to his MMS colleagues about his retirement, Smith wrote of his lifelong connections with current and former students. Gold noted that he has seen this phenomenon firsthand: “Frequently [former students] come back to the school to visit him. I can’t think of many students out 10 or 15 years coming back [otherwise]. He’s one of the only staff in the building with students coming back to visit him specifically.”
The fact that Smith is good at keeping in touch is a comfort to his friends and colleagues at MMS.
“We have his telephone number,” said Gold. “I plan on staying in touch with him as a friend.”
Do you have a fond memory of Mr. Smith at MMS? We’d like to add to this article. Please post in the comments section or send it to VillageGreenNJ.com.
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