L’ton dedicates auditorium to retiring superintendent

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Thirty-four-year-old habits are hard to break for former Lumberton Superintendent Dr. Linda L. Smith.

Last Thursday after the Lumberton Public School District’s Board of Trustees dedicated the renovated high school auditorium to her, Smith walked back to the board room. As she passed by the elementary school classrooms, she reached out and turned the knobs to see if the doors were locked.

“I used to do this every day after school,” she said, heading to the final Lumberton Public School District’s Board of Trustees meeting. The schools became part of the Lamar County School District on Sunday.

For Smith, last Thursday’s meeting was bittersweet, filled with joy after the dedication of the auditorium and sadness at retiring from the school district after 34 years. She said she would be leaving her office at noon last Friday.

Sometimes, Smith sounded happy for retirement and time to enjoy her family. Other times, she talked about leaving the school where she has worked since the first day after her honeymoon in 1984.

At the dedication ceremony, current faculty, staff and students praised Smith for her work in the schools, which included 24 different positions before becoming superintendent. Heather Baker, a Student Council member, said Smith had played an important role in shaping the students’ lives.

“For all of the students of Lumberton High, you really made an impact on us, especially on the senior class,” she said. “You showed us the respect that some didn’t show sometimes. You showed us a kind and loving heart that some of us didn’t receive at home. This was our home away from home. In times of trouble and times of doubt, you were always there. We want to just thank you for all that you have done for us in this school.”

Smith’s husband, Mason, is a U.S. history, government and economics teacher who was the last Lumberton High School Teacher of the Year under the LPSD. He said he was grateful for his wife’s hard work.

“Obviously, our roles are changing,” he said. “It is a sad time, but you have affected people’s lives in a positive way, in a way that inspires them to be the best than they can be. I’m grateful for her to take on what she took on, to try to make sure there was some way to keep a school in Lumberton, and the efforts that she did behind the scenes, traveling so much and meeting with so many people along with (Board Attorney) Mr. (Greg) Holcombe, and all of you that were very supportive of that.”

Smith thanked the School Board and Holcombe, adding that she was “humbled and blessed” by the auditorium and dedication.

“This School Board decided four years ago that I could lead this district,” she said, “and I am so thankful that you chose me for this position because it is a bigger platform to be able to share the love of God and the love of Christ in walking out our living witness, which is our testimony. We are called to be who He has called us to be. I am not perfect, but I choose to walk in what I know as best I can. I am thankfully that He positioned us here.”

After the dedication ceremony, Smith said she would be teaching adjunct at William Carey University and hopefully going fulltime in the future.

“I am just kind of waiting to see what doors open and walk through them when they open,” she said. “I am kind of fielding my options right now. It’s not certain, but I am going to take some time to do some family things and help Mason with some farm things.”

Smith said she realized she would feel changes.

“It will be different,” she said. “I have been told that I have no idea how much stress I have been under and that it will take two or three months to recognize the difference. I really don’t see the pressure.

“I love what I’ve done. Every time I have done anything, it has been for the benefit of children; that’s been my goal – encourage, nourish, do whatever students needed and be what they needed in the moment. Sometimes it was a pat on the back, and sometimes it was a kick in the backside. It was doing whatever was necessary to help a child to be successful. 

“It’s inspiring to me that young people are listening and paying attention to all that’s going on around them. It’s bittersweet, and it’s a sad day too.”

In the Lumberton School Board’s final meeting, members:

• Approved Minutes of the last meeting (June 11, 2018 Regular School Board Meeting).

• Approved Order Transferring Interests of Lumberton Public School District to Lamar County School District.

• Approved Order Transferring 16th Section Interests of Lumberton Public School to Lamar County School District.

• Approved Deed of School Property to Lamar County School District.

• Approved Authorize Board Attorney to work with Lamar County School District and City of Lumberton to Resolve Football Stadium Deed Issue.

• Approved Order Authorizing Legal Counsel for Lamar County School District to Represent Interests of Lumberton Public School District.

• Approved Resolution of Appreciation to Lamar County School District.

• Approved Placing (Lamar County Superintendent) Tess Smith and (Assistant Superintendent) Wayne Folkes on the Bank Account(s) of the Current Lumberton Public School District, Effective July 1.

• Approved June Claims Dockets.

• Approved June and July Payroll Dockets.

• Approved June Financial Statements operating Transfers to Close Fund Accounts with Positive Cash.

• Approved FY18 Final Amended Budget.

• Recessed to Unveil Marker.

• Approved Minutes from June 28, 2018, Special Call Board Meeting.

• Adjourned.