Teaching in her hometown and raising a family keep Smith busy

Callie Smith has been with the MCSD for 14 years. She started her teaching career as a sixth-grade teacher, and has been the district’s middle school instructional coach for three years now. Here, she works with teachers to analyze data and design interventions during a professional development day, March 2. Smith also works with the ELL program and is the K-6 social studies curricular leader. (Photo submitted)
Panther Professionals
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Panther Professionals is a weekly series highlighting educators, administrators, staff and aides who are dedicated to the future of the Monticello Community School District.

     She grew up in Monticello. She attended school in Monticello. Her family owns and operates a long-time business in Monticello. It only made sense that she raise her own family in Monticello, while giving back to her school district.

     Callie (Kromminga) Smith has been working for the Monticello School District for 14 years, though she didn’t necessarily see herself in education.

     “I’ve always loved kids and enjoyed babysitting,” she said.

     But while in high school, Smith seriously started looking at her future and figured she’d either enter her family’s business (Kromminga Motors) or real estate.

     Smith attended the University of Northern Iowa after graduating from MHS. After a couple of volunteer opportunities, she enrolled in an education course, not realizing this was where her future lay.

     “I loved it!” she said. “I knew this was it!”

     She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary and middle school education, with a minor in social studies. Smith later earned a master’s degree in education from Graceland University. Her ambition doesn’t stop there. She is currently seeking her second master’s degree from Drake University in education leadership.

     “I have a passion for learning and continuing to better myself,” she said. And who knows what future leadership opportunities may come her way.

     Her first teaching job after college was teaching sixth grade in Monticello, a position she held for 10 years.

     “I was hired to come in as a long-time substitute and never left,” joked Smith.

     Her youngest brother, Karson, was lucky enough to have his big sister as his sixth-grade teacher.

     “I lived at home at the time so the two of us lived together and spent all day together,” she said. “It was a big adjustment to both of us.” While some teachers might have their own children as their students, not many can say they taught their siblings.

     From being a classroom teacher, Smith then sought the opportunity to become the district’s middle school instructional coach.

     “I loved teaching sixth grade but I was ready to try a new challenge,” said Smith of the change in the job.

     She is now in her third year in this role.

     “I just serve the fifth through eighth grades,” Smith said.

     The first two years of the job, under the district’s TLS (Teacher Leadership System) grant, Smith said involved a lot of training for the new job. There are seven coaches throughout the MCSD, each serving in various roles such as instruction, behavior, technology, and interventions.

     Her days include a wide variety of tasks. Smith partners with middle school teachers to provide instructional support within the classrooms.

     “I collaborate with teachers and we co-plan their lessons,” she said. “We develop assessments (for those plans).” Smith said as a coach, she works with teachers who want to explore developing new curriculum. “A big part of my job is working with teachers in coaching cycles, which involve six to nine weeks of support in the classroom. After setting a goal for student learning, components of a coaching cycle include modeling a new strategy, co-teaching, analyzing data, and more.”

     “Teaching is not done behind closed doors anymore,” Smith said of working through the curriculum process and instituting new ideas. “Teachers have to be innovative to meet the needs of students today.”

     She also works with elementary instructional coach Jean Kehoe on professional development programming, leading those staff training sessions.

     Aside from her coaching position, Smith is also the co-coordinator of the MCSD’s ELL (English Language Learner) Family Outreach Program. (Smith works alongside ELL Coordinator Elizabeth Medina.) This is Smith’s third year with ELL. She works with the non-English-speaking students throughout the district, helping them with academics to provide opportunities to experience culture and events in the community.

     “This is why educators have to be innovative,” said Smith. “You have to be willing to change with the population.”

     She said that’s what she likes about working for the MCSD, its willingness to try new things, whether it’s with professional develop opportunities or bringing people in to benefit the teachers and students as a whole.

     “We have such great opportunities here to better ourselves as educators, to be successful in the classrooms. We have the environment to collaborate and to get the job done.”

     As if Smith isn’t busy enough, she serves as the district’s K-6 social studies curricular lead, in which she assists teachers with curriculum, resources, and implementation of the Standards Referenced Reporting initiative.

     Working, living and raising her family in Monticello, Smith said she’s able to connect with so many people in the community.

     “I have a real investment here,” she said of her hometown.

     In her spare time (which tends to be rare), Smith and her husband, James, stay busy with their three young children, Tate, Sutton, and Saylor.

     “The kids are at such a fun age,” said Smith. “It’s exciting!”

     The Smiths take day trips and travel with their extended family.



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