First, allow me to say that every school needs at least one great guidance counselor. That is especially true when it comes to athletics. For the past twelve years, East Ridge High School has been blessed with having one of the very best guidance counselors in the business. Mrs. Shelia Smith has been a true friend to both faculty and students alike, but that twelve year run ended this past Friday. You see, after 34 years in education in the state of Tennessee, Mrs. Smith is retiring.
That brings me to discuss what has made her so successful. It’s really simple to figure out how to be a great guidance counselor. First, you must guide your students through the maze of academics, athletics, and other school activities. Secondly, you must counsel them when they hit one of many “bumps in the road” along the way to graduation. And, last but certainly not least ; you need to love them all.
When one of your students becomes pregnant, but still looks undernourished, you stock your micro-fridge with some extra goodies, so that student will have plenty of good food to eat during her pregnancy. When another student-athlete gets into trouble with school administration, you step in between and counsel him to obey the rules, say, “yes sir or yes ma’am” and go on about his business. When a really good football player is up for a state-wide award in Nashville, you accompany him to the awards ceremony, and when he doesn’t have a decent suit to wear, you provide one for him, out of your own pocketbook.
When a student passes away suddenly on school grounds and her distraught sister comes to school with no shoes on her feet, you gladly give her your $60 pair to wear, and you spend the rest of day going barefoot in the halls. You regularly gather prom dresses for needy students to wear, so they too can have a prom night to remember, or beg your husband for .several of his neckties to give to senior boys to wear on senior day.
I could go on and on about those little things Shelia Smith has done as a guidance counselor, but I think everyone gets the point. In fact, even though she is leaving East Ridge, she is not really retiring. She started this morning as a guidance counselor at Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School. East Ridge’s loss is LFO’s gain. She still has a lot of love to give, and God has decided she should give it to students at LFO.
Her co-workers and students will miss her greatly at East Ridge; they’ve all told her so. I imagine her new co-workers in north Georgia have made her feel very welcome indeed this morning. So here’s wishing you the best of luck in your new position Mrs. Smith.
You still have a lot of guiding, counseling and loving to do. After all, you’ve been guiding, counseling and loving me for more than forty years.
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).