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Steve Smith 2020


"The first piece of advice that comes to mind when asked about advice from my mother is a sentiment I have shared over the years. My mother, Ms. Lois Smith-Rushin of Leesburg, Ga., would often tell my siblings and me, “You better do what them teachers say…” Essentially, she was telling us that as students going to school, we should listen to everything our teachers told us, and under no conditions were we to question any directive given; we should follow directions and absorb learning, and that’s exactly what we did.

Fortunately for us, Mother was right, and her loving advice timeless! I listened intently to what my teachers told me throughout the years of my K-12 education, and thanks to Mother and my teachers, I think I turned out all right. Several teachers throughout my schooling provided positive words of encouragement and assistance along the way – often in written form but mostly verbally. This was especially true of teachers who also served as athletic coaches for me throughout my school career. Specifically, I had at least 7 to 10 teachers by the time I reached high school who consistently reminded me that I could achieve academically at the highest level, and that I had athletic gifts as a bonus. I believed them fully and made every effort to achieve at a high level because my mother had set the foundation for believing in them, and it still holds true today. Any success I have had thus far is deeply rooted in my mother’s guidance, faith that she engrained in us at home and church, and the wisdom, love, and guidance I received from my teachers because of my Mother.

Actually, two of my former teachers remain active in the life of my family to this day. Both are “characters” and retired from Lee County High School, and although this piece is about mothers, both deserved mention because they have served as “parents” and role models for me and thousands of other students in our small South Georgia town. This short essay does not allow for elaboration, but for now just know that my former high school English teacher, Mrs. Elaine Ruckel, and my high school baseball and basketball coach Mr. Hugh “Butch” Watts, are loving people/ “characters”,  who epitomize exactly why mother said to me to do exactly as my teachers told me.

Here’s the lesson: Mothers are our first teachers and role models, and they shape the foundation of how we learn and what we learn. We should go forth, listen to our mothers and our teachers, do exactly as they say, and life will shine well upon you – Happy Mother’s Day!"

- Steve Smith

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