BY JEAN-MARIE BRALLEY
Mary Lucille Smith is Franciscan University of Steubenville’s longest serving faculty member, having begun her career at the university in the summer of 1969.
“I enjoy watching people learn and watching the light bulb…go off and they make the connection,” said Smith, a professor of education.
After spending time teaching special education as well as middle school math in Hancock County of West Virginia, her native state, Smith said she was hired at Franciscan University by the Rev. Michael Scanlan, TOR, who was provost of the university at the time.
She said that in her prior school experience she found teachers facing many difficulties.
“I found that when I was teaching that there were individuals who had difficulty teaching children,” Smith said. “They had difficulty with classroom management. They had difficulty with organization, and I just felt that I wanted to help to prepare teachers so that they’re better teachers and better organized and had better strategies. So that’s what enticed me to come (to Franciscan).”
Smith explained that as a young person, she initially was not certain of what she wanted to do in life. She became interested in teaching during high school when she would tutor other students in algebra and geometry after cheerleading practice.
“I thought ‘Oh, gee maybe I can teach,’” said Smith.
Smith currently teaches various math classes within Franciscan’s education department as well as two on-line graduate classes that she developed. She is also the professor for teaching strategies for student teachers. Moreover, she is the program coordinator for Franciscan’s education department, which means she writes the programs for Franciscan to obtain state approval and national recognition.
Smith said that when she came to Franciscan there were only about 750 students, and she wondered if the school would remain open. She was a faculty member when Scanlan left the university and then returned as its president.
Smith said, “This place is a miracle [because] it’s a religious environment … we have students from all over the world, all over the country, and very dedicated, delightful students to work with, really, so it’s just a pleasure.”
Smith also explained how her faith affects her teaching.
“I think that you have to have faith in your students,” she said. “I think you have to have a willingness to help, to see them grow and sometimes they’re not always in the place where you want them to be, and … you pray for your students.”
In her down time, Smith said she enjoys country line dancing, aerobics and Zumba.